When Jada Pinkett Smith dared to criticize the Oscar’s lack of diversity, the pushback was swift. A couple of the Smith family’s harshest critics jumped at the opportunity to try to start a war of words with Jada, but Fish Mooney isn’t taking the bait that “Aunt Viv” actress Janet Hubert and Bride of Chucky star Alexis Arquette are dangling in front of her. Instead, the Gotham actress has only chosen to respond to the words of someone who actually has a dog in this fight: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
On Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Jada Pinkett Smith announced that she would be boycotting the Oscars this year due to a glaring lack of diversity among nominees. As CNN reports, this is the second year in a row that no people of color have been nominated for awards in the acting categories. Twitter responded to the snubs of stars like Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), and Will Smith (Concussion) by getting the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to trend on Twitter, and Jada Pinkett Smith responded by calling for a boycott of the Academy Awards.
“At the Oscars… people of color are always welcomed to give out awards… even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments,” she tweeted. “Should people of color refrain from participating all together?”
Jada further elaborated on her thoughts and feelings in a Facebook video, and she revealed that she’s going to practice what she preaches by skipping this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott threat caught the attention of AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is a woman of color. Isaacs released a statement in response to the concerns of Smith and other stars, and she reassured them that the Academy is taking steps to rectify the issue.
“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” Isaacs said, according to the Wrap.
“In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
Jada Pinkett Smith responded to Isaacs on Twitter by thanking the AMPAS president for her prompt response. However, she didn’t say whether Isaacs’ words made her change her mind about boycotting the Oscars.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Academy, specifically Cheryl Boone Isaacs, (pt 1)
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 20, 2016
for such a quick response in regard to the issue at hand. I look forward to the future. (pt 2)
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 20, 2016
Jada Pinkett Smith’s words sparked an intense online debate, and a few members of the acting community let her know that they disagree with her stance. Janet Hubert, who is most well-known for playing the first Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, accused Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith of boycotting the Oscars solely because Will wasn’t nominated for his work in Concussion, not because they actually care about other people of color being snubbed.
“I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you’re talking about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win?” Janet Hubert said in a Facebook video.
Hubert further criticized Jada Pinkett Smith for asking other stars to potentially put their careers in jeopardy by taking part in the boycott, and she pointed out that other less-privileged members of the black community are dealing with far worse problems than being snubbed for an Oscar.
Janet Hubert also admitted that there’s some bad blood between herself and Will Smith that stems back to their days working together on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After three seasons of starring on the show, Hubert was replaced as Aunt Viv. According to E! News, Will Smith and co-star Alfonso Ribeiro have both said that Janet was very difficult to work with, and Will once implied that the actress was jealous of the success he found at such a young age.
Janet Hubert isn’t the only celebrity who lobbed personal attacks at Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith in response to Jada’s words. Actress Alexis Arquette tried to completely change the direction of the conversation about the Smiths by claiming that Will and Jada are both gay. In a Facebook post, Alexis claimed that Will’s first marriage ended after his wife found out that he was involved in a gay relationship with Hollywood manager Benny Medina. Arquette also claimed that Jada Pinkett Smith is a closeted lesbian.
“When Jada comes out as Gay and her beard husband admits his first marriage ended when she walked in to him **** servicing his Sugar Daddy Benny Medina..then I will listen to them,” Alexis Arquette wrote.
Her personal beef with Will Smith stems back to the actor’s refusal to kiss Anthony Rapp in the movie Six Degrees of Separation.
“Gays have enemies. They lurk in gilded closets. Outing is healthy.”
According the Daily Mail, Alexis Arquette has deleted her post about Jada and Will’s sexual orientation.
While some stars have spoken out against Jada Pinkett Smith, a few high-profile stars are on her side. New York Magazine reports that Spike Lee, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba, and George Clooney are just a few of the talented celebrities who have joined Jada in lamenting the lack of diversity in Oscar nominees.
Unfortunately for Alexis Arquette and Janet Hubert, it looks like Jada Pinkett Smith is winning this fight.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]