“American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson” Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. said he admires Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, but does not support their protest against the 2016 Oscars for failing to nominate actors and actresses of color.
Speaking on The New Yorker Radio Hour, Gooding weighed in on the Oscar protest saying he is a proud member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“I’ve been an academy member since I worked on ‘Outbreak’.” He continued, “To become an Academy member, this was in 1993, 92, you have to had starred in three major motion pictures and be nominated by two Academy members and then you put your application in. My two sponsors where Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey. I was and I still am so proud I got in when I got in and then a few years later wind up winning the damn thing.
“But, you know, there were statements made by Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith asking for a boycott. When I won my award, those two individuals stood up first in that audience and I will always love them for that even though if I was invited to go, I would attend. Absolutely.”
When The New Yorker’s Jeffery Toobin nudged the 1996 Oscar award winner “So you don’t support a boycott but you’re glad that people are talking about it”, Gooding responded “That’s right. That’s exactly right”
Last month former “Gotham” star Jada Pinkett Smith posted a video online stating that she would not be attending the 2016 Oscars because its list of more than 150 nominees lacked diversity.
The glaring omissions included nominations for the young black cast of “Straight Outta Compton,” Michael B. Jordan from “Creed” and Jada’s husband for his role in the timely “Concussion.”
Jada addressed the snubs saying “The academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose, to invite whoever they chose and now I think it’s our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit that are just as good as the so called mainstream ones.”
She isn’t the only one regarding the Oscar snubs as a matter of social and racial inequity within the Academy and Hollywood. Plenty of moviegoers have been making the same connection on social media with the trending topic #OscarsSoWhite.
Despite his position, Gooding is no stranger to inequity.
He was well known for his performance as a black teen growing up in an L.A. ghetto surrounded by poverty, violence and police harassment in “Boyz N the Hood” before winning the Oscar for best supporting actor in “Jerry Maguire.”
Gooding told Toobin that playing OJ Simpson in “American Crime Story” reminds him of 1991 role.’
Gooding recalled “[Boyz N the Hood” Director John Singleton and I] did a few takes of [‘The People v. OJ Simpson] He goes, come here and he pulls me onto the quite part of the mock version of the court room. He goes there and he turns to me and he starts crying. And he starts shaking and he’s hugging me. And I start crying because I know what he’s going to say and he goes, we’ve come full circle, we’ve come full circle. You know, he says, our careers do you realize.
“I get emotional thinking about it, but he was right because I was 22 years old, he was 22 and now here we are telling about the social ills in Los Angeles, police harassment all over again 25 years later.”
While he does not support Jada’s boycott, Gooding expressed his approval of the discussions that she and #OscarsSoWhite prompted in the social sphere.
“I think it was necessary for that dialogue to be started because it promoted change in the voting and there is a place for people to voice – even if it’s a radical voice, that promotes change.”
Listen to the entire New Yorker interview here: https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/574610