Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has responded to criticism that the Oscars aren’t diverse enough, saying in a statement Monday night that the organization is pursuing “dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.”
“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” Isaacs, who is black, wrote in the statement published on the Academy’s official Twitter page. “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”
The statement came on the same day that Spike Lee announced that he was boycotting the Feb. 28 ceremony, which he called “lily white” in an Instagram post. Actress and singer-songwriter Jada Pinkett Smith also said she would not be attending or watching this year’s ceremony.
All of the nominees in this year’s acting category are white, which has spawned a social media backlash fueled by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power, and we are a dignified people and we are powerful,” Pinkett Smith said in a video posted to her Facebook page.
“The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose, and now I think that it’s our responsibility now to make the change.”