Oscars 2016: Jada Pinkett Smith may call for Oscar boycott over lack of diversity

"We are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?"

Clarisse Loughrey
Monday 18 January 2016 10:37 GMT
Jada Pinkett Smith has debated an Oscar boycott on Twitter
Jada Pinkett Smith has debated an Oscar boycott on Twitter (Getty Images )

This year's Oscars have so far proved a shambles.

As the nominations for this year's awards were slowly reeled out, Twitter witnessed the resurgence of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite; capturing the dismay of seeing the 2016 Academy Awards prove a poorer show in diversity than last year's already whitewashed affair. For the second year in a row, not a single person of colour was nominated for any of the acting awards. Neither was a single film centering on a POC-protagonist nominated for Best Picture.

With no excuses. This year saw two films, focused on POC-characters, of such Oscar-primed quality their snub by the Academy inescapably brings the awards body's attitude towards diversity into question: Ryan Coogler's Creed and F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton. Where's Gray's Best Director nomination? Where's Michael B. Jordan's Best Actor nomination? Where's Idris Elba's nomination for Beasts of No Nation? Where are Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor's nominations for Tangerine?

Jada Pinkett Smith took to Twitter to voice her own frustrations; while also highlighting the irony of a POC host, Chris Rock, being tasked with handing out awards to what will be a body of largely white winners.

Her tweets capture the dejection felt by so many POC within the industry, but also of the precarious position they've been put in. Smith's public address of the situation is deeply admirable, but her doubts over a course of action are also entirely understandable. Would a boycott be effective? Or is it more essential to remain continually, and vocally, visible within the awards race as a stand against such willful exclusion? 

Only one black actress has ever won Best Actress in its entire 88-year history, when Halle Berry was awarded for Monster's Ball in 2002. Though her speech remains eternally inspiring, it's deeply disheartening to see her exclamation, "this door tonight has been opened", faced with that door steadfastly shut in the 14 years which have since passed. 

The 88th Academy Awards will be held 28 February. 

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