Jada Pinkett Smith has been leading the charge on the Oscars boycott that is gaining steam in Hollywood, and now her husband Will Smith is speaking out about the controversy for the first time. The Concussion star, who many believe was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination this year, talks to Good Morning America about how the Oscar nods don't reflect the industry and country that he loves.
"Diversity is the American superpower," he tells Robin Roberts of GMA. "That's why we are great. For my part, I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and our Hollywood community great. When I look at the series of nominations...it's not reflecting that beauty."
The veteran actor and two-time Academy Award nominee says there was a time he was more optimistic about diversity in Hollywood. "I've been nominated twice for Academy Awards, and I've never lost to a white person," he recalls. "The first time I lost to Denzel [Washington], and the second time I lost to Forest Whitaker. For me, that was huge. But it feels like it's going the wrong direction."
Smith adds that the lack of diversity in the nominations are actually a symptom of a larger problem in America right now. "The nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry. The industry reflects America...a series of challenges we are having in this country at the moment," he says. "There's a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony. That's not the America I want to leave behind."
As for his wife taking a stand with a now-viral video blog, Smith insists he had nothing to do with it. "I was out of the country at the time," he says. "I came home and I was like, 'What happened?' She's deeply passionate, and when she's moved, she has to go. I heard her words, and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman. There's a position that we hold in this community. If we're not part of the solution, we are part of the problem."
He admits that while his own snub may have been a small part of Jada's motivation, it's definitely not the reason she made the video. "There's probably a part of that [snub] in there, but for Jada, had I been nominated and no other people of color, she'd still have made the video anyway," he says. "This is so deeply not about me. This is about children who are going to watch this show and not see themselves represented."
As for whether he will attend the Oscars next month without his wife, Smith jokes, “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron]." He then adds, more seriously, "We've discussed it. ... We're part of this community. But at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK."
Leave it to the Smiths to take a stand with grace and dignity. Watch Smith's full interview with GMA here and see our recent interview with the actor at the ceremony in which Spike Lee received his honorary Oscar below:
(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)