Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) is the first lawmaker to come out in support of boycotting next month’s Academy Awards over the lack of minorities nominated in top categories.
“I support the boycott,” Davis, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), told The Hill in an interview.
No black actors were up for awards in the four major Oscars categories for the second year in a row when nominations were announced last week. A slew of celebrities — including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, director Michael Moore, and Spike Lee — have said they’re refusing to attend or view the Feb. 28 awards show. Rev. Al Sharpton has also called for a boycott of the Oscars, to be hosted by comedian Chris Rock.
Smith, a past two-time Oscar nominee, told “Good Morning America” on Thursday that he and his wife won’t be in the audience at the 88th annual show, saying, “I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great."
“When I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty,” Smith said.
Davis, speaking by phone Wednesday, said of those snubbing the event, “I think they are reflective of the African-American community.”
Other leading members of the CBC, including Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), have not weighed in on the controversy and did not respond to The Hill’s requests this week for comment.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), another CBC member, said while she is “extremely disappointed in the lack of diversity — year after year — in the Academy’s selections,” she won't be joining those shunning the Oscars ceremony.
“There are many urgent matters that I must deal with” in her district, Lawrence said, “and I question whether a boycott is the best course of action.”
Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) also cited district concerns as taking precedent, but, said through a spokesperson that she is “always concerned with racial and social inequity.”
The boycott marks the second straight year that the Academy Awards have been clouded by race-based controversy. The 2015 ceremonies were marred by accusations from film critics that the academy snubbed the stars and director of “Selma,” a celebrated film depicting a landmark 1965 civil rights march.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement earlier this week that she’s calling for “big changes” in the makeup of the group’s voting membership and said she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”