*Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs (pictured) is scrambling behind the scenes to enlist influential black talent to present top awards at the Oscars next month.
The organization recently announced immediate and historic changes to voting and membership that Boone Isaacs hopes will help increase diversity.
These changes include the reframing of lifetime voting rights, new governor seats have been added and committees restructured. According to the Academy’s website, the goal is to double the number of diverse members by 2020. Meanwhile, securing top black talent to give white folks awards during the telecast has been challenging.
“The Oscars are looking for a black celebrity to give out the Best Picture award,” one source told Page Six, adding: “Names they are talking about include Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman.”
Another name on the academy’s list had been Will Smith, but the snubbed “Concussion” actor revealed last week on “Good Morning America” that he’ll join his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the show for failing to nominate any black actor for the second year in a row.
“We’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK,” Smith told Robin Roberts, before joking, “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron].”
As previously reported, music icon Quincy Jones said that he was asked to be a presenter with Pharrell Williams and rapper Common. But he said, “I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to [present].”
While Spike Lee, Tyrese, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent have urged a boycott, rapper/actor Ice Cube appeared on Graham Norton last week where he called the boycott “ridiculous.”
Whoopi Goldberg said a boycott isn’t fair to host Chris Rock. “To boycott him seems just as bad,” she said this week.
A rep for both Winfrey and Freeman said their clients have not been approached about presenting.
The 88th Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 28 in Los Angeles. Will you be tuning in?