Will Smith Commends Academy Response To Diversity Row

It looks as though Will Smith is ‘pleased’ with the Academy response to #OscarsSoWhite.

During an interview with BBC News, the 47-year-old actor explained that he’s ‘very pleased’ with how ‘quickly and aggressively’ the Academy responded to outcry over lack of diversity at this year’s Oscars.

“This is far beyond me,” he said. “This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards. Awards are a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.”

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Of course, Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith have been at the centre of the diversity controversy since the Academy announced this year’s Oscar nominees.

The high-profile couple decided not to attend this year’s Academy Awards after it was revealed that there were no black actors or directors up for the top awards… for the second year running.

And it wasn’t long before the likes of Spike Lee and Michael Moore joined the boycott.

“To me it’s a much broader issue than an award or an award show,” he told Good Morning Britain. “It’s about a somewhat regressive slide towards separatism and racial and religious exclusion on a much broader American level and I believe that the situation with the Academy Awards and with Hollywood is a bit of a reflection of a much broader problem.”

But while the Oscar nominations caused an instant backlash, it seems the Academy has been trying to put things right ever since… and recently announced a number of rule changes that should address the problem of diversity in its ranks.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

And this seems to have gone some way towards tiding things over with Will Smith.

“First and foremost it’s not us and them,” he said. “I’m a member of the Academy, so it’s we, so to me there’s a problem that we as a community, a family, have to solve together,“ he said.

“Secondarily it’s not a racial issue, to me this is not a civil rights issue, this isn’t a black and white issue, the beauty of America is in our diversity that is what the country has always been founded and most successful is when everyone comes in and adds their voice and their ingenuity and initiative.”

Will he and his wife attend the ceremony after all? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.

But it looks as though the Academy is heading in the right direction. And that’s a good start.

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Picture Credit: WENN

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