Jada Pinkett Smith’s call for an Oscars boycott has caught the attention of most Black entertainers in Hollywood. Music mogul and composer Quincy Jones, rapper 50 Cent, actors Tyrese Gibson and Lupita Nyong’o are the latest additions to the conversation about diversity problems in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Gibson and 5o cent called for the host, comedian Chris Rock, to stand down as well.
But Quincy Jones has a different approach.
“They called me to go present with Pharrell and Common,” said Jones, a seven-time Oscar nominee. “When I’m back [in Los Angeles], I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to [present].”
Jones has been involved with the Oscars since 1971, when he was asked to serve as musical director and conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony. In 1995, he was the first African-American to receive the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
While many people are up in arms about rich entertainers boycotting and wanting diversity at the awards ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not reflect the moviegoing public when it comes to the types of people actually watching films. After whites, Black and Hispanic filmgoers are the second- and third-largest demographics that regularly attend movies, according to a report published by the Motion Picture Association of America.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, Oscar voters are nearly 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2 percent. The Oscar voters tend to be in their 60s, and people younger than 50 years old only make up 14 percent of the voters present. While Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African-American, serves as president, it is clear that she has very little influence on the films nominated.
2015 was a great year for Black performers. Idris Elba, directors F. Gary Gray, Ryan Coogler and Cary Fukunaga were left out of the conversation, even though their respective films were critically acclaimed.
“There are two ways to do it,” Jones said. “You can boycott or you can fix it. It’s frightening to see 90 percent white and 80 percent white male.”