Will Smith: Oscar nominations don't reflect America's diversity

Jada Pinkett Smith Responds to the Academy
Jada Pinkett Smith Responds to the Academy

Will Smith is among the Hollywood stars disappointed by the lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations, where for the second year in a row zero nonwhite actors were nominated for the Academy's acting awards.

The Concussion star sat down with ABC News' Robin Roberts for an interview that aired on Thursday's Good Morning America and told her that he thinks this year's nominees don't reflect the beauty and greatness of America's diversity.

"The beauty of Hollywood combined with American ideals is the ultimate dream for humanity: the basis of the American concept of anything is possible, with hard work and dedication, no matter your race or religion, creed, none of that matters in America," Smith said. "I think that diversity is the American superpower. That's why we are great. So many different people from so many different places adding their ideas and their inspiration and their influences to this beautiful American gumbo and for me, at its best, Hollywood represents and then creates the imagery for that beauty. But for my part, I think I have to fight for and protect the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great. So when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it's not reflecting that beauty."

Click through for photos of Will Smith through the years:

Smith didn't receive the nomination many people believed he deserved for his role as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered a disease caused by repeated head trauma experienced by professional football players and took on the NFL in his quest to have the truth be known. And while he emphatically insisted that all of this year's nominated actors are "fantastic...;and deserving," he's disturbed by the larger trend he sees reflected in the abundance of white nominees.

READ MORE: Oscars: Nominee Mark Ruffalo "Weighing" Not Attending Ceremony Over Diversity Issue

"I've been nominated twice for Academy awards and I've never lost to a white person. The first time I lost to Denzel [Washington] and the second time I lost to Forest Whitaker," Smith pointed out. "When I see this list and series of nominations that come out -; and everybody is fantastic and that's the complexity of this issue, everyone is beautiful and deserving and its fantastic -; but it feels like it's going the wrong direction. When I look at it, the nominations reflect the Academy, the Academy reflects the industry, reflects Hollywood. And then the industry reflects America, it reflects a series of challenges we're having in our country at the moment. There's a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony, and that's not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind. That's not the industry, that's not the America that I want to leave behind."

In one of a few funny moments in his otherwise serious interview, Smith revealed he didn't know that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was planning to post her Facebook video in which she said she wouldn't be attending this year's Oscars due to this year's all-white nominees.

"I was out of the country at the time, and I came home and I went, 'What happened?'," Smith told Roberts, who added that he told her he would have appreciated a little heads-up on his wife's posting. "She's deeply passionate and when she is moved, she has to go. And I heard her words and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman. But I appreciated the push. There's a position that we hold in this community and if we're not a part of the solution, we're a part of the problem. It was her call to action for herself, for me and for our family, to be a part of the solution."

READ MORE: Oscars: Dustin Hoffman Sees "Subliminal Racism" Behind Lack of Diversity

And he insists that she would have made that video even if he was nominated and no other people of color were.

"This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are gonna sit down and they're going to watch this show, and they're not going to see themselves represented," Smith said.

He also confirmed that he wouldn't be attending this year's Oscars, joking, "My wife's not going. It would be awkward for me to show up with Charlize [Theron]."

He added, in all seriousness, "We've discussed it and we're a part of this community but at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is O.K."

READ MORE: Quincy Jones on Oscars Diversity: "You Can Boycott or You Can Fix It"


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