Will Smith backs Oscar boycott

Will Smith joins his wife Jada Pinkett Smith in not attending Oscars due to lack of diversity

Photo by: AP
Photo by: 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.

Updated Jan 22, 2016

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.

"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.

Mark Ruffalo, nominated for his performance in the newspaper drama "Spotlight," told BBC News on Thursday that he was "weighing" whether to skip the ceremony. But later in the day, he clarified that he will attend the Oscars "in support of the victims of clergy sexual abuse and good journalism" - the subjects of "Spotlight."

"I do support the Oscar Ban movement's position that the nominations do not reflect the diversity of our community," said Ruffalo.

Following the announcements by Lee and Pinkett Smith, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pledged "dramatic changes" to diversity 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."