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Spike Lee Refuses to Attend Oscars Due to All-White Acting Nominees

Spike Lee photographed on Jan. 4, 2015 at 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Eric Ogden

Spike Lee photographed on Jan. 4, 2015 at 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Spike Lee is refusing to attend this year's Oscars due to the fact that for the second year in a row, all of the acting nominees are white.

'Straight Outta Compton' Producer Calls Oscar Noms 'Embarrassing'

The filmmaker, who was awarded an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in November, said that while he appreciated that recognition, he and his wife "cannot support" this year's Academy Awards.

"Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy," Lee wrote in an Instagram post on Monday morning (Jan. 18). "But, 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. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!!"

 

#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, 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. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Lee's comments accompanied a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. and were posted on the federal holiday commemorating his birthday, something Lee said seemed appropriate.

"It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday," Lee wrote. "Dr. King Said 'There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right.'"

'Straight Outta Compton' and 4 More Oscar Snubs

Lee goes on to say that while he's often asked about the lack of African-American nominees, he thinks the "white nominees and studio heads" should be asked about the lack of diversity around the Oscar nominees for the past two years.

Lee also echoes the argument put forth by many entertainment industry insiders that it's really up to Hollywood executives to create opportunities for and make movies starring diverse actors.

"As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The 'Real' Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks," Lee writes. "This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To 'Turnaround' Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With 'The Green Light' Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, 'I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS.' People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White."

Ice Cube on 'Straight Outta Compton' Oscar Snub: 'It's the Oscars, They Do What They Do'

Lee's film Chi-Raq was among those that failed to earn any Oscar nominations. Diverse actors considered likely nominees but were left out of the Oscars' list included Will Smith (Concussion), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Benicio del Toro (Sicario), Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight).

Both Creed and NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton only received one Oscar nomination each, honors that went to white people involved with those films.

Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, earlier this weekend suggested a potential boycott of the Oscars by people of color in light of the lack of diversity among nominees.

This article originally appeared in THR.com.

Oscars 2016

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