Spike Lee is putting the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag into action by announcing his boycott of the Academy Awards on Monday. The acclaimed director, who received an honorary Oscar at the Governor's Awards in November, announced on Instagram that he'd be skipping the ceremony next month due to the Academy nominating no people of color in any of its four major acting categories for the second year in a row.
"We cannot support it and [I] mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, president [Cheryl Boone] Isaacs and the Academy," Lee wrote. "But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can't act?! WTF!!"
Lee goes on to explain that the root of the problem is that there are even fewer minorities behind the camera in Hollywood than in front of it. Until there are people of color in power positions at studios, then the Oscars' diversity problem will continue.
"People, the truth is we ain't in those rooms, and until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lilly white," Lee wrote. "It's easier for an African-American to be President Of The United States than be president of a Hollywood studio." His full message, attached to a photo of Martin Luther King Jr., is below.
#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)
Lee, who made similar remarks in his Governors Awards speech, isn't the first one to suggest boycotting the Oscars. Jada Pinkett Smith brought up the idea on Facebook on Saturday after her husband Will was passed over for his role in Concussion.
Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer also had strong words for the Academy when the critically acclaimed biopic of N.W.A. only received a screenplay nomination for its four white screenwriters - Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus.
"The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it's a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people," Packer wrote. "I repeat -- it's embarrassing. It's unfair to the performers of color who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line AND DELIVERED with their projects this year."
Will the boycott wake up the Academy?
The Oscars air Sunday, Feb. 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC.