NEW YORK (AP) – Will Smith says he will not attend the Academy Awards next month, joining his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and others in protest against two straight years of all-white acting nominees. Best supporting actor nominee Mark Ruffalo also says he’s considering skipping the ceremony.
“My wife’s not going. It would be awkward for me to show up with Charlize (Theron),” said Smith on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “We’ve discussed it, but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK.”
Smith, who some thought might be nominated for his performance in the football drama “Concussion,” said his decision was “deeply not about me.”
“This is about children that are going to sit down and they’re going to watch the show and they’re not going to see themselves represented,” said Smith.
Smith, who would likely have been a sought-after presenter at the Feb. 28 ceremony, becomes the biggest name to join a boycott of the Academy Awards following announcements by Spike Lee (an honorary Oscar recipient this year) and Pinkett Smith.
Ruffalo, nominated for his performance in the newspaper drama “Spotlight,” said Thursday that he’s mulling joining the protest.
“I’m weighing it, that’s where I’m at right now,” Ruffalo told BBC News. “I woke up in the morning thinking, ‘What is the right way to do this?’ Because if you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy, what he was saying was that the good people who don’t act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are purposefully not acting and don’t know the right way.”
One of the acting nominees joining the boycott would add a new chapter in the backlash that has roiled the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Following the announcements by Lee and Pinkett Smith, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pledged “dramatic changes” to diversity in the academy’s membership.
Smith, who has been nominated twice before, for 2001’s “Ali” and 2006’s “The Pursuit of Happyness,” said he believes the industry can do better.
“Diversity is the American superpower. That’s why we’re great,” said Smith. “When I look at the series of nominations of the academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty.”