NEW YORK: Film director Spike Lee, who is leading calls for a boycott of the 2016 Oscars over the lack of black actors among nominees, called on Tuesday for Hollywood to adopt policies to address the issue of racial diversity behind and in front of the camera.
Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November, said Hollywood had fallen behind the worlds of music and sports’, saying it makes sense businesswise for the movie and TV industry to reflect the racial diversity of the United States.
“As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It’s Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio,” the “Chi-Raq” director wrote on his Instagram page.
Lee cited the National Football League requiring teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior executive jobs.
“Why Can’t Hollywood Do The Same?” he added.
Lee’s call for a boycott on Monday followed nominations last week which featured no people of color in the 20 lead and supporting actor and actress nominations.
Director Michael Moore said on Tuesday he would join the boycott, along with Jada Pinkett-Smith, the actress wife of snubbed “Concussion” star Will Smith.
The debate prompted a rare statement from the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, whose members vote on the Oscars, pledging big but unspecific changes and a review of the way members are recruited.
“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” wrote Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, late on Monday. “Change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more.”
Membership of the Academy is by recommendation of two other members, or is automatically awarded by being Oscar nominated. The full list of the 6,000 or so Academy members has never been disclosed although a 2012 Los Angeles Times study found that its members were nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male.
In recent years, the Academy has begun publishing lists of new members. Recent additions among black actors, musicians and directors include Chris Rock – the 2016 Oscars host – , Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Prince, Pharrell Williams, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, comedian Kevin Hart and Steve McQueen, the black British director of 2014 Oscar-winning movie “12 years a Slave.”
The boycott has not been universally supported.
Janet Hubert, best known for her role on 1990s TV comedy show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” accused the Smiths of hypocrisy, saying they have made “millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you’re talking about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination.”
“You have a huge production company that you only produce your friends and family and yourself. So you are a part of Hollywood, you are part of the system that is unfair to other actors. So get real,” Hubert added in a YouTube video.