Jan 18 (Reuters) - African-American director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith said on Monday they will boycott next month’s Academy Awards ceremony because black actors had been shut out of the Oscar nominations.
The Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for the second year in a row. The lack of African American nominees led to the revival of the Twitter feed #OscarsSoWhite, which had emerged in 2015.
Lee, the director of such films as “Do the Right Thing” and 2015’s “Chi-Raq,” said he was coinciding his boycott announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“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,” Lee wrote under the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
“40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?!” said Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November.
He said his decision to stay away meant no disrespect to Oscar emcee Chris Rock and ceremony producer Reginald Hudlin, both of whom are black, or to officials at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Pinkett Smith, who appeared in two “Matrix” movies, also said she would stay away from the Feb. 28 awards ceremony.
“Maybe it’s time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream,” she said in a video posted to Facebook.
Her husband Will Smith, who stars in the football injury drama “Concussion,” and Idris Elba, who portrayed an African warlord in “Beasts of No Nation,” were among the black actors shunned this year.
The black cast and director of hip hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” were also left out of the race.
The boycott statements came after comedy “Ride Along 2,” starring black actors Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, pushed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from its position atop the weekend box office.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Marguerita Choy