Will Smith shuns Oscars in diversity protest, Ruffalo to attend

Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:42am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Will Smith on Thursday joined director Spike Lee and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith in not attending the 2016 Oscar ceremony in February in protest over the absence of nominated actors of color, while nominee Mark Ruffalo said he will attend the show after confusion over his stance.

Smith, star of football head trauma movie "Concussion," was the highest-profile black actor to be snubbed by Oscar voters when nominees were announced last week. No actors of color were nominated in any of the 20 acting categories for a second straight year.

"My wife's not going... We've discussed it. We're part of this community. But at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK," Smith told ABC television's "Good Morning America."

Ruffalo, who is white, is a best supporting actor nominee for playing an investigative journalist in Catholic Church abuse probe "Spotlight."

After some confusion over whether he would join the protest, the actor said on Twitter he will be at the Oscars "in support of the victims of clergy sexual abuse and good journalism," but that he did support those not attending in protest.

Lee, Smith, Pinkett-Smith and documentary director Michael Moore are the only major stars so far to announce they will not attend the Oscars.

Their protest has sparked a major debate over the lack of diversity both at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose majority white male members vote on the Oscars, and in Hollywood at large.

Smith said that both times he had previously been nominated for an Oscar, he had "never lost to a white person."   Continued...

Actor Will Smith poses as he arrives for the New York premiere of the film "Concussion" in the Manhattan borough of New York City, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files