Yesha Callahan

Spike Lee to Boycott This Year’s ‘Lilly White’ Oscars


Spike Lee has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, and after this year’s Oscar award nominations were announced, he was quick to call out the academy for overlooking actors of color yet again.

Last November, Lee was given an honorary Oscar based on his body of work and commitment to film, and the director didn’t hesitate to criticize Hollywood for its lack of diversity.

“This industry is so behind sports, it’s ridiculous,” Lee told the audience. “It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a Black person than to be the head of a studio. Honest. Or the head of a network.”

Now, Lee is speaking out again. The Chi-Raq director took to Instagram to explain why he won’t be attending this year’s “lilly white” Academy Awards show and discussed the “real battle” in Hollywood–getting more Black gatekeepers into positions of power.

I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?

And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken.

As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.

While Lee’s aims are certainly admirable, it remains to be seen if they’ll make a difference and encourage Hollywood to be more inclusive.

  1. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    Spike Lee is right.

  2. January 19, 2016 - Reply

    We will not be silent about this. Spike Lee is right that people have the right not to watch the Oscars when they so disrespect black people. Black people have tons of talent involving acting and a myriad of fields that deal with human expression. Therefore, we shouldn’t respect those who disrespect us. That is why it is important to build up film institutions found in the black African Diaspora from the States to Africa. Our stories will always matter since the first human stories come from us literally. To make a change, we have to resist oppression, fight discrimination including racism, and build up our own institutions.

  3. January 19, 2016 - Reply

    I keep saying we need to celebrate our own and stop waiting for ” them” to acknowledge us. We don’t need “them”. When will we see that?

  4. January 21, 2016 - Reply

    If there is one thing that Spike Lee has over all of some of these actors who have been speaking, it is consistency. There was never a time when he didn’t speak out about racism in America and Hollywood. He has earned his stripes in so many ways. White people hate him, and most Black actors are afraid of him. He was one of the few people who spoke out against “Django,” even Dick Gregory defended that mess.

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