Will Smith says he’s boycotting Oscars because of diversity ‘regression’

Actor says he wants to be "part of the solution" to Hollywood's diversity problem

Will Smith has explained his decision to boycott next month’s Academy Awards, saying that he wants to be “part of the solution” to the film industry’s diversity problem.

The actor had been considered a contender for this year’s Best Actor prize for his performance in sports drama Concussion, but was left off the five-strong shortlist when the Oscar nominations were announced earlier this month. For the second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white.

During an interview on Good Morning Britain today, the actor insisted that his boycott “has nothing to do with me being nominated or not or wanting to win awards or not”.

“For me the issue is, I believe diversity is America’s superpower,” he continued. “I think that’s what makes our country great and special. If the image coming out of Hollywood narrows, it’s almost criminal. It’s like we’re narrowing the collective American imagination and that to me is the issue.”

The actor – who received Oscar nominations for 2001’s Ali and 2007’s The Pursuit Of Happyness – then said: “I’m a member of the Academy, so this is a problem that we all have to solve collectively. For me the only reason it’s an issue this year is because it feels like a regression.”

“There is something happening in our country that’s being reflected in Hollywood, that’s being reflected in the Academy that I for one want to be a part of making the adjustment. I want to be part of the solution,” he explained.

Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, have also announced that they will be boycotting next month’s Oscars ceremony, which takes place in LA on February 28, hosted by Chris Rock.

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