Chris Rock is facing pressure to bow out as host of the 88th Annual Academy Awards over the calls to boycott the 2016 Oscars in response to the lack of diversity among the nominees. With less than six weeks to go before the Feb. 28 show, he's caught between a rock and a hard place.
For the second year in a row, not a single person of color was nominated in the top individual categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. As a result, filmmaker Spike Lee—who received an honorary Oscar from the Academy at its Board of Governors Awards in November—announced in an Instagram post Monday that he and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee "cannot support it" and will not attend the event. Regarding Rock's hosting gig, Lee called out those who questioned whether he should do it. "The host is black (chris rock) and now black actors and others are shaming him for taking the job?" he wrote. "He earned it."
Jada Pinkett Smith announced via Facebook that she will be boycotting the show, too. "Hey, Chris. I will not be at the Academy Awards and I won't be watching but I can't think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend," the Gotham actress said. "Good luck." Her husband, Will Smith, led a similar boycott of the Grammy Awards in 1989 when it refused to televise the rap category in which he and DJ Jazzy Jeff won for "Parents Just Don't Understand."
Rock didn't respond to request for comment when contacted by NBC's Today Monday. Last week, however, the comedian did address the controversy, tweeting, "The #Oscars. The White BET Awards." Matt Lauer argued that Rock should stay on as host. "Don't you think it would be better for him to stick it out and do the hosting? Because if he pulls out, it's a big story for one day," he told his co-hosts. "If he decides to host, there's all that anticipation and everything he says on that stage gets played over and over again and he can make a real difference."