Will Smith also to stay away from Oscars in diversity protest

Actor Will Smith says he will not attend the 2016 Oscar ceremony in protest over the absence of actors of color among the nominees.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (REUTERS)- Actor Will Smith on Thursday (January 21) joined his wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, and director Spike Lee in deciding not to attend the 2016 Oscar ceremony in February in protest over the absence of actors of color among the nominees.

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.

“At this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK,” Smith told ABC television’s “Good Morning America.”

Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement this season, and Pinkett-Smith have both said they will sit out the Feb. 28 ceremony after no actors of color were nominated in any of the 20 acting categories for a second straight year.

Lee on Wednesday said he had never used the word “boycott” to characterize his protest.

Lee, Smith, Pinkett-Smith and documentary director Michael Moore are the only major stars so far to have announced they will not attend the biggest night in the movie industry.

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.