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Two Top Black Stars to Boycott Oscars

  • VOA News

Jada Pinkett Smith, left, and Will Smith arrive at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Jada Pinkett Smith, left, and Will Smith arrive at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Two prominent African-American entertainers say they are boycotting this year's Oscar ceremonies because the 20 nominees for acting awards are all white.

Director Spike Lee wrote an open letter to the Academy Award board of governors Monday, asking, "How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? 40 white actors in 2 years and no 'flava' (an urban term for things that are different from the ordinary) at all. Can't we act?"

Lee also criticized the lack of minorities in studio executive offices, where he says the decisions on what movies and television shows will be produced are made.

Black actress Jada Pinkett Smith also announced her intention to boycott the Oscars, which are the film industry's top honors. She is the wife of actor Will Smith, whose critically lauded performance in the film Concussion failed to result in an acting nomination.

FILE - Spike Lee attends the premiere of "Chi-Raq" at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York, Dec. 1, 2015.

FILE - Spike Lee attends the premiere of "Chi-Raq" at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York, Dec. 1, 2015.

"Begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful," Pinkett Smith said.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement late Monday the organization is taking steps to alter its membership and will review its recruitment in the coming weeks to bring "much-needed diversity" in the future.

"I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion," she said. "This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes."

The Academy has hired black comedian Chris Rock to host and black producer Reginald Hudlin to co-produce this year's Oscars show.

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