But the 'Concussion' star adds, 'This has nothing to do with awards'
Credit: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

Will Smith is “very pleased” with how “quickly and aggressively” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences responded to the outcry over the lack of diversity within its ranks.

But speaking to the BBC on Friday, the Concussion star made clear that the issue goes much deeper than who wins an award.

“This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards,” Smith said. “Awards are a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.”

Smith was one of a number of high-profile celebrities to speak out against the Oscars after this year’s nominations were revealed, joining his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in saying he would not attend the awards ceremony. For the second straight year, all 20 men and women nominated in the acting categories are white.

“The nominations reflect the Academy, the Academy reflects the industry – reflects Hollywood,” Smith told Good Morning America. “The industry reflects America. It reflects a series of challenges we’re having in our country at the moment. There’s a regressive slide towards racial and religious disharmony. That’s not the Hollywood I want to leave behind. […] That’s not the America I want to leave behind.”

In the wake of the controversy that erupted, the Academy announced rule changes in an effort to help change the make-up of its voting body by adding more women and people of color. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said last week. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

“It’s not us and them. It’s we,” Smith said on Friday. “I’m a member of the Academy. It’s much more a domestic family issue than it is a civil rights issue. It’s a problem we all have to solve.”