Creator of #OscarsSoWhite, April Reign, Endorses Oscar Boycott

April Reign  @reignofapril/Twitter
April Reign
@reignofapril/Twitter

In the wake of Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith saying they won’t attend this year’s Academy Awards, April Reign, who created the hashtag that focuses on the lack of minority nominees, is urging others to do the same. 

In the wake of the announcements by Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith that they will not attend this year’s Oscars because of the lack of black nominees, April Reign, who created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is calling for a boycott of the Feb. 28 awards ceremony. “It will be on an even grander scale” than a grass-roots boycott Reign took part in last year, she said. “What we are saying is: If you are concerned about the lack of inclusion and diversity in Hollywood, don’t watch the program. Engage in some counter-programming instead. And speak also with our dollars at the movies.”

Reign, who is managing editor of the website broadwayblack.com, created the hashtag last year, when all the acting nominees were white. When history repeated itself when this year’s nominations were announced Jan. 14, “I was disappointed but not surprised in the lack of nominations of people of color and those of marginalized communities,” she said. “It’s unfortunate. Although Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has attempted to make some changes with respect to diversity by inviting over 300 new members into the Academy last year, those changes did not reflect a difference with respect to how films are nominated and how people are celebrated for their achievements.”

While neither Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November, or Pinkett Smith used the word “boycott” in announcing their intentions not to attend, they set the stage for a possible boycott, and Reign endorsed Pinkett Smith’s words, saying her “statement was a strong one. We can be asked to host and to present, but when it comes to receiving an award, our names are not called. If your name is not going to be called, if people who look like you and share your experiences are not going to be lauded, then why even go?”

Reign did not call for those who may have already agreed to take part as presenters to cancel their plans, but urged them to use any appearances at the show “to speak out and take a stand about the lack of diversity in Hollywood. I don’t think there’s just one way accomplish it.” As for Chris Rock, who is scheduled to emcee the event, she said, “I think Chris Rock was chosen as the host in part because he has a biting political and social commentary. On his Twitter, he’s already called the Oscars the white BET awards, so I suspect he’ll be mentioning the overall issues as well on the broadcast.”

In addition to coining the #OscarsSoWhite hastag last year, Reign used her Twitter account, which has 18,800 followers, to live-tweet the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America last year while the Oscar broadcast was taking place and is planning a similar effort this year. “We chose that film very intentionally because although it has a majority black cast, it resonates with everyone,” she said. “And that is the point. If it’s quality work, it will bring moviegoers to the seats. So the argument that blacks can’t open movies and women can’t open movies holds no water when we have Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has grossed over $1 billion worldwide and has a female lead and a black male lead.”

Addressing concerns about the lack of diversity in this year’s nominees, Boone Isaacs issued a statement Jan. 18 in which she said she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” and added that it’s “time for big changes.”

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter | Gregg Kilday

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