'Compton' producer Will Packer calls Oscars' lack of black nominees 'complete embarrassment'
Hollywood producer Will Packer responded to the Academy Awards' continuing diversity issue in a Facebook post Sunday, calling the oversights "a complete embarrassment" to the film industry, declaring it "the reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue."
Packer is a 1991 graduate of St. Petersburg High School and producer of numerous box office successes including the Ride Along and Think Like a Man franchises. Packer is an executive producer of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, one of the prominently African-American themed films shortchanged when Oscar nominations were announced last week.
Packer isn't the only celebrity sounding off about the absence of people of color in this year's nominations. On Monday, Spike Lee in an Instagram post and Jada Pinkett Smith in a video on Facebook both announced that they would not be attending the February ceremony in protest.
Packer began his post congratulating this year's nominees, in particular screenwriters Jon Herman and Andrea Berloff, who wrote Straight Outta Compton.
"But who I REALLY want to applaud are some other actors, directors and producers who were at the top of their game this year. A list that includes, but is not limited to, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, John Boyega, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tessa Thompson, Audra McDonald, Adepero Oduye, Samuel L. Jackson, Oshea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler.
"Yes, they made us laugh. Yes, they made us cry. Yes, they made us angry. Yes, they made us think. Yes, they are all black. No, not one was nominated for the movie industry's highest honor."
Packer opined Straight Outta Compton's producers — Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, F. Gary Gray and Scott Bernstein — were "egregiously overlooked" by the nominations. "...and I can understand if you think this comes with a little bias," he wrote.
"... in 2016 it's a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat—it's embarrassing. It's unfair to the performers of color who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line AND DELIVERED with their projects this year.
"It's also unfair to the white actors, writers, producers and directors who gave everything they had to create career defining content only to have it marred by the fact that a lack of diversity calls into question the legitimacy of The Academy's choices."
Packer complimented academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs for attempting to make membership more diverse, and Oscar ceremonies producer Reginald Hudlin for making the show feel "as inclusionary as possible." (Both Isaacs and Hudlin are African-American.)
The St. Petersburg High School grad concluded his Facebook post with an indisputable humble brag:
"And it's not lost on me that this very weekend the movie that just might supplant one of the highest grossing movies of all time for the #1 spot at the box office is a movie that has two stars, a director and a producer who happen to be black."
That movie is Ride Along 2, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, directed by Tim Story and produced by Packer.
And it did finish No. 1 at the box office, knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the top spot.