Will Smith: ‘Oscars diversity debate represents a much bigger issue’

Will Smith believes the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations represents a “regression in America’s society”.

The 47-year-old actor and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are just two of the stars choosing to boycott next month’s Academy Awards (28Feb16) after there were no black nominees on the list.

And Will believes this is actually representative of a problem the United States is suffering as a whole, so it needs to be tackled by everyone.

“We have to understand the spirit of what is happening. This is not about us and them, it’s about we,” he explained. “I’m a member of the Academy so this is a problem that we all have to solve collectively. And for me the only reason it’s an issue this year is because it feels like a regression. I’ve been nominated for Academy Awards twice and I’ve never lost to a white person – I lost once to Denzel Washington and then I lost to Forest Whitaker.

“So to me, Hollywood is experiencing a regression that is reflective of a social regression that America is experiencing. There’s something happening in our country that is being reflected in Hollywood, that’s being reflected in the Academy, that I for one want to be a part of making adjustment and I want to be part of the solution.”

He also insisted his decision to speak out on the issue has nothing to do with the fact that he did not receive a nomination, as expected, for his role as Dr Bennet Omalu in Concussion.

“It has nothing to do with me being nominated or not, or wanting to win awards or not… that is so frivolous,” he said during an interview on Good Morning Britain which aired on Friday (29Jan16).

Concussion tells the story of Dr Omalu’s discovery of the link between American football injuries and brain damage, with the National Football League (NFL) attempting to discredit his research.

Will also revealed that the subject of the film was particularly difficult for him to comprehend, because both he and his sons are fans of the sport.

“I was completely unaware of Dr Omalu’s story,” he said. “And I remember I first read the screenplay, because I grew up as a football fan, my son played, so I read the screenplay and I remember thinking to myself how good of a time Denzel was going to have playing this role. Because I wasn’t doing it… I’m not making this one!

“But then I met Dr Omalu who is just one of the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet. He has eight degrees so he’s one of the smartest people you’ll ever meet, and then he is beautifully naive at the same time. He has a wonderful childlike quality connected to genius level of brilliance.”

– Cover Media


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