Former Oscar nominee Will Smith fueled this year's Academy Award diversity debate when he announced he would not be attending the annual ceremony along with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, whose viral video helped initiate the movement.
While celebrity after celebrity added their vocal fuel to the fire, the Academy's president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced a historic list of changes to voting membership guidelines meant to limit inactive members and encourage a wide-ranging voting pool – music to Smith's ears.
"I was very pleased at how quickly and aggressively the Academy responded," Smith told the BBC Friday. [[361398801,C]]
U.S. & World
However, he also took a beat to answer his critics, who have alleged that the Smith's outcries are really in response to the "Concussion" star's lack of a nomination this year.
"I want to be very clear about the spirit of what I'm saying. This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards," he said. "That's 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."
He drove home the point that this is a problem that must be addressed in unity.
"I think that it's not us and them – t's we," he concluded. "I'm a member of the Academy, so it's much more a domestic family issue than it is a civil rights issue, so it's a problem we all have to solve." [[238904721,C]]