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‘Not Even to Sit In the Audience’: Rosie Perez Calls Out the Academy Awards, Blames ‘Racism’ for Not Being Invited Back for Decades

Actress Rosie Perez has film credits dating as far back as 1989, according to her IMDB profile. She is still very much active in the industry, with her latest venture being the 2020 television series “The Flight Attendant.” So, it came as a surprise when, during a recent sit-down, the Brooklyn native told Variety that she hadn’t been invited to the Academy Awards in over 25 years. 

“Not even to sit in the audience, not to present, nothing — and I’m a member. I love the Academy Awards. I cheer on my peers, but it hurts,” the 56-year-old expressed. “It’s like when your home team doesn’t ask you to come back into the stadium after you got up to bat and hit the home run.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 28: Rosie Perez presents the award for Best Actress – Television Motion Picture onstage during the 78th Annual Golden Globe® Awards at The Rainbow Room on February 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Hollywood Foreign Press Association)

The star, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was nominated in 1994 for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1993 drama-disaster film “Fearless.” Perez starred alongside Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini, and John Turturro. She ultimately lost the award to then 11-year-old Anna Paquin for her role in “The Piano.” It was the last time the actress attended the annual awards ceremony.

(The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences currently has more than 9,900 members. As described by the Los Angeles Times in 2018, members who are not nominated for Oscars or selected as presenters in the ceremony receive emails inviting them to enter their names in a lottery to get one of the few hundred seats left over after most are allocated in the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre, the Oscars show venue since 2002.)

The “White Men Can’t Jump” actress believes racism stands at the helm of why she and other stars from similar backgrounds have yet to be adequately represented by The Academy. “The biggest struggle has been navigating through other people’s shortcoming,” the “Do the Right Thing” star told the media outlet. “Other people’s bigotry, racism — and specifically the ones that don’t understand that they are bigots or racists.” 

Following the #OscarsSoWhite scandals in 2015 and 2016, the Academy has made some improvements, but it’s evident that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. Variety reported that only four of the 23 categories at the 2021 Oscars have Latinx representation. 

Meanwhile, only six Black stars received nominations in acting categories, including the late Chadwick Boseman for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The achievement also marks the first time in Oscar history that the best actor category is not majority-white. 

Elsewhere, the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” became the first Best Picture-nominated film to have an all-Black team of producers, Shaka King, Ryan Coogler and Charles D. King. The movie scored a total of six nominations, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Song, “I Will Fight For You,” performed by H.E.R.

The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on April 25 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. 

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