Spike Lee says not calling for Oscars boycott

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Lee (above) decried the "Lilly White" actors nominations in an Instagram post.
Lee (above) decried the "Lilly White" actors nominations in an Instagram post.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Filmmaker Spike Lee said on Wednesday that while he and his wife are staying away from this year's Oscar's ceremony, he has not called for a boycott over the all-white lineup of nominees in the actor categories.

"I have never used the word boycott," he said in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America show.

Lee wrote an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president and board of governors posted on Instagram on Monday decrying the "Lilly White" actors nominations for a second consecutive year, and said he and his wife would not attend.

#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. 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?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. 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?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - His senior photo from Morehouse College (Class of 1948) Good morning, people. With my essay " #OscarsSoWhite ...Again" that I posted yesterday, it was cut off half way through. This is the remainder of it. Please read and Thank You for your love and support for the position my wife, Ms. Tonya Lewis Lee and I have taken for the upcoming 2016 Oscars. ------------------------ As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It's Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don't You Think It's A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God's Earth? I Ask, What's The Hold Up? And Please... Don't Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions. It's Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League's Rooney Rule. It's Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League's Diversity Committee. The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can't Hollywood Do The Same? It's Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children's Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America. Spike Lee Filmmaker Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York MLK Day January 18th, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - His senior photo from Morehouse College (Class of 1948) Good morning, people. With my essay " #OscarsSoWhite ...Again" that I posted yesterday, it was cut off half way through. This is the remainder of it. Please read and Thank You for your love and support for the position my wife, Ms. Tonya Lewis Lee and I have taken for the upcoming 2016 Oscars. ------------------------ As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It's Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don't You Think It's A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God's Earth? I Ask, What's The Hold Up? And Please... Don't Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions. It's Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League's Rooney Rule. It's Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League's Diversity Committee. The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can't Hollywood Do The Same? It's Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children's Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America. Spike Lee Filmmaker Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York MLK Day January 18th, 2016

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

"I'm going to a Knicks game," he said on ABC, referring to the NBA basketball team from New York.

Lee joined other Hollywood A-listers like actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of actor Will Smith, in expressing outrage over the absence of minority nominees.

Even Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, said she was "both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion."

Oscar-winning actor George Clooney said the movie industry was moving backwards, saying the problem was with the options available to minorities in quality films.

As he did in his letter, Lee said the fault for the absence of minority nominees lay with the studio executives who decide what films are made rather than the academy and its voting membership.

He suggested the only way things would change is if the studios adopt a system akin to that used by the National Football League, which requires that minorities be interviewed when coach or executive positions open up.

"I mean, we can't say hocus-pocus, presto chango," he said.

"Got to be in the room. We're not in the room. We are not in the room...

"When they have these green light meetings quarterly where they look at the scripts and look at who is in it and decide what we're making, what we're not making."