Prominent actors boycott Oscar Awards for lack of black nominees

Amidst a social media firestorm, the Academy President responded late Monday night to criticism about the lack of any black actors on the 2016 Academy Awards nominations list.

Two prominent Hollywood figures announced on the Martin Luther King holiday that they will boycott the Awards ceremony in February.

That drew an impassioned response from the Academy's President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is herself black. She stated that she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion."

She continued in the statement posted online about 7:25 p.m. Monday, saying that "the Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will review membership recruitment to bring about much-needed diversity."

Jada Pinkett Smith posted her calm but critical statement on Facebook Monday, saying she will not attend or watch the Academy Awards.

"The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose...Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and put them back into our communities, into our programs," Pinkett Smith said in a video statement.

Director Spike Lee, who received an honorary Oscar in November, posted his statement on Instagram with a photo of Martin Luther King Jr.

It read in part, "We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?!"

Kali Ora, who is Director of the San Francisco Black Film Festival, said he applauds the boycott.

"We have been dependent on Hollywood for my whole existence to put out our movies and they're only going to put out certain movies involving black people," Oray said.

Many people say that there were important films this year such as Creed, Straight Outta Compton, and Beasts of No Nation that featured black actors who didn't get a nod.

"The so-called black films this year are stellar and they're about some very topical and acute issues," said Jac Taliaferro, a San Francisco filmmaker.

Those issues might not resonate, Taliaferro says, with an Academy that he feels should be more racially diverse.

"I think that's why you didn't see them nominated, because the voting Academy is not of that ilk," said Taliaferro.

He and others hope people answer the call to invest more resources in films that bring diversity to the silver screen.

"Black people need to start pooling our resources together and start doing our own thing as well," Oray said.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee say they do support black comedian Chris Rock, who will host the awards show on Sunday February 26th.