These Black Actors Will Be at the Oscars

February 7th 2016

Aron Macarow

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been under fire ever since they released Oscar nominations in mid-January. For a second year in a row, not one actor of color received an Oscar nod, leading some of Hollywood's Black elite to walk away from the February 28 award show entirely. Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee have all publicly committed to not attend. Others, like Lupita Nyong'o, have spoken out against Hollywood's diversity problem.


A photo posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

However, not everyone is turning away. Equally prominent Black artists — most notably including Chris Rock, who is under contract to host the evening's show — still plan on attending. Here is a list of Black actors who won't be skipping the award show.

RELATED: Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs Responds to #OscarsSoWhite

Chris Rock

Last hosting the Oscars in 2005, Chris Rock will be returning to host this year's show. Calling the Oscars the "White BET Awards" in a tweet last month — which is still pinned to the top of his Twitter feed at time of press — it's expected that he will address lack of nominee diversity as well as the #OscarsSoWhite backlash in his routine. Some people are particularly hopeful that Rock's decision to not pull out of the show indicates how he will use the host platform to his advantage.

The 50-year-old comedian is also no stranger to talking about diversity struggles in Hollywood publicly. In March, Rock spoke to Essence magazine about the challenges faced by Black actors, especially females:

"I've never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person hasn't gone, 'Does the girl have to be Black?' It happens every time."

Despite this, his decision to not withdraw from the show has been met with vocal criticism by some, including Tyrese Gibson and 50 Cent who asked Rock to step down as host over social media last month:


A photo posted by TYRESE (@tyrese) on

RELATED: Why #OscarsSoWhite is Trending (Again)

Whoopi Goldberg

The idea of an Oscars boycott has actually drawn criticism from Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg, who called the effort a "slap in the face to Chris Rock." She will be attending this year's show as a presenter.

Goldberg also expressed that she felt the boycott was misguided, acknowledging that the lack of diverse nominees was a problem but suggesting that there were larger issues behind it than just the Academy voting membership.

Speaking on her show, the co-host urged "The View" audience to "make a stink all year, not just once a year but all year," concluding:

"I make movies for a living. Let me tell you what the problem is. It's not that the people doing the nominating are too white. They're not looking at a movie and saying 'That's very white.' 'I'm not going to nominate that black movie' … The problem is, people who can help to make movies that have blacks and Latinos and women and all that, that money doesn't come to you because the idea is that there's no place for black movies."

ALSO: Tomorrow's Variety Cover Takes a Stance on #OscarsSoWhite

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington spoke up about #OscarsSoWhite and the upcoming Academy Award show in an Entertainment Weekly clip released last week. Speaking positively about the Academy's recent steps to improve the diversity of its voting membership, Washington called their actions "so coureageous," stating, "there's going to be a lot of change in the coming years because of these decisions."

She will also be presenting at the award show, along with Pharrell Williams, Kevin Hart and The Weeknd according to recent Academy statements.

Representation matters

Standing behind wife Jada's decision to not attend the show, Will Smith recently told "Good Morning America" that their decision to boycott the Oscars was about representation: "This is about children that are going to sit down and they're going to watch this show and they're not going to see themselves represented." He's right, and boycotting the show is one way to push for Hollywood's missing diversity.

But as we can see in the variety of responses to #OscarsSoWhite, there are also multiple avenues to achieve that representation, from opting out of the show to opting in, either as an attendee, presenter or host.

In 2014, Rock wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that if it weren't for Eddie Murphy and Keenen Ivory Wayans, he might not have been successful in the entertainment industry. And maybe that's what he's doing by hosting at the Oscars for young viewers at home — making a way in. We'll see on February 28.