The #OscarsSoWhite campaign has acquired another major supporter: Will Smith.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the blockbuster actor told Robin Roberts he would not be attending this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Smith, who starred in the critically acclaimed film Concussion, told Roberts:
“The nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry [Hollywood] and then the industry reflects America. There is a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind.”
On Friday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. spoke with Roland Martin about the #OscarsSoWhite protest movement that seems to be gaining steam and applying pressure on the Academy.
Twenty years ago, Jackson led a high-profile boycott against the Oscars for virtually the same exact reasons #OscarsSoWhite has risen to prominence in our current social discourse.
When Martin asked Rev. Jackson why the protest action he led two decades ago did not yield the intended results, Jackson said, “At that time, the Blacks rebelled against our boycott and said that we were doing the wrong thing.”
Those who opposed Jackson’s boycott of the Oscars twenty years ago included media mogul Oprah Winfrey and famed music producer Quincy Jones. Winfrey, Jones, and a host of others believed there should not have been a boycott of the Academy Awards because at the time, Blacks held high-profile roles on the show.
Rev. Jackson said, “It’s like having a pilot that’s Black; the infrastructure was White, you can have a Black out front doing the hosting and doing the music, but the Academy is secret as opposed to transparent.”
“Who gets green-lighted is secret, the access to capital or certain roles is secret, so the infrastructure of Hollywood is very White and every now and then, there will be somebody Black out front who is very talented, but does not have the power to affect movies and roles and money green-lighting,” said Jackson.
He added, “I hope that Blacks this time around will choose to stand in dignity, rather than sit in shame.”
During the second part of the NewsOne Now discussion of #OscarsSoWhite, Martin explained, “I’m not wasting time focusing on a statue … this is an economic issue. This is about being frozen out of the industry, not being able to build and create wealth, and I believe that Black folks in Hollywood made a huge mistake 20 years ago by saying, ‘Oh, don’t do that because a Black woman is hosting and a Black guy is the producer, and Oprah is asking questions.'”
Martin added, “You trippin’ about one day and we’re talking about jobs and millions and billions of dollars for the rest of the year.”
Watch Roland Martin and Rev. Jesse Jackson discuss the #OscarsSoWhite protest action in the video clip above, and then watch the extended NewsOne Now conversation in the video clip below.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.