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Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith to boycott Oscars

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 18, 2016 at 5:28 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have both vowed to boycott this year's Academy Awards after black actors and filmmakers were snubbed in nominations.

"Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?" Pinkett Smith asked in a video posted to her Facebook page Monday. "The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose, and now I think that it's our responsibility now to make the change."

She went on to say she would not attend nor watch the Academy Awards, but extended best wishes to this year's host, Chris Rock. Rock has already acknowledged the dearth of black nominees, calling the Oscars "the white BET awards."

Lee announced his decision to boycott on Instagram. Monday morning, he posted a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. in graduation robes coupled with a lengthy condemnation of the Academy.

#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

"It's no coincidence I'm writing this as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday," Lee wrote. "Dr. King said 'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it's right.'"

Lee's 2015 film "Chiraq" received no nominations. Pinkett Smith was similarly passed over for her role in "Magic Mike XXL." Smith's husband -- who starred in the film "Concussion" -- was also overlooked. This year marks the second consecutive year with no nominations for black actors or filmmakers.

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