The top talent agency is canceling its annual Oscar party to donate to refugees instead
One of Hollywood’s top talent agencies is canceling its annual Oscar party and using the money it would have spent on the shindig to help refugees affected by President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban.
United Talent Agency announced on Wednesday that the company would be swapping its annual party for a $250,000 donation to the American Civil Liberties Union — the group that challenged Trump’s travel ban and was granted a stay, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The company will also be donating part of the money to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization. UTA also announced plans to host a pro-immigration rally two days before the ceremony at its L.A. office.
“This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness and restlessness,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer reportedly wrote in a memo to staff. “Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”
UTA reps some of the industry’s most high-profile stars, including Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Harrison Ford and Mariah Carey.
Trump’s executive order, signed Jan. 27, prevents citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S, and indefinitely bars Syrians from crossing the border. The ban has been halted by Homeland Security and several judges across the country, although the Trump administration continues to push for it to be reinstated.
“When fear and division get the better of a society, artists are among the first to feel the impact — and to denounce the ill winds,” Zimmer also reportedly said in his memo.
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The news comes as several people have been prevented from making an appearance at the show due to the ban. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, already announced that he will not be attending the show even if an exception is made for him. Along with Farhadi, the Syrian subjects in the documentaries The White Helmet and Watani: My Homeland are also unsure if they will be allowed to travel to the U.S. for the awards show, although both teams are still working to find a way for them to attend.
The Academy Awards air live on ABC Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET.