For months now, the Oscars have been plagued with controversy and bad press after Jada Pinkett Smith complained about the Academy not nominating Black actors for the second year in a row. Pinkett Smith announced that she was boycotting the ceremony and set off a domino effect of other Black fans and stars claiming that they were boycotting the Oscars as well. However, some Black celebrities did show up for last night’s award show, including actress Kerry Washington. While at the award show, Washington revealed why she chose to attend the Oscars despite the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
In an interview with newscaster Robin Roberts, the “Scandal” star spoke about the diversity issue both in TV and in film, and she explained that she felt her power as a Black actress was best put to use at the Oscars as opposed to boycotting.
“A lot of people have asked me why I’m here tonight, and the thing I’m thinking about is, if you look at the history of movements, the history of change, a lot of the voices are needed at the table,” Washington explained. “I really respect and actually admire some of the people who are not here tonight, I really get it, but for me, I felt like my voice — in my heart — my voice is best used at the table.”
Washington then admitted that the Academy had made mistakes in the past by having what many consider to have been a “whitewashed” couple of years in regard to who has been nominated for Oscars. However, Washington explained that she wants to use her power as a member of the Academy to make diversity a priority.
“As a new member of the Academy — I joined the Academy about three years ago — I really want to be part of the conversation to make sure there’s institutional change,” she continued, “so that we never have a year like this again, so that we can be as inclusive as possible.”
We hope that Washington and other members of the Academy really can bring change to the Oscars, and maybe Hollywood as a whole. However, we won’t know if any real changes have taken place until the nominees for next year’s ceremony are revealed and we see if any Black actors and filmmakers are actually up for awards.