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Leslie Jones Abstained From Voting in Most Oscars Categories Over the Lack of Black Nominees
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite first took off in 2015. But while subsequent years saw more diverse slates of nominees, the this year’s Academy Awards are again poised to be a pretty white affair. And the very white Oscars is especially galling given the fact that 2019 was a historically diverse year in movies, with a third of the top 100 films featuring a non-white actor in a leading role. Only a single person of color, Harriet star Cynthia Erivo, was nominated in an acting category. Among the snubbed were Dolemite is My Name’s Eddie Murphy, Clemency star Alfre Woodard, and Awkwafina, who won a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell and still didn’t land an Oscar nomination.
Plenty of people made their displeasure known on social media—including former Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones. “Welp I just finished voting for the Oscars,” she tweeted Friday night. “It didn’t take long cause there are no black people on it. So I voted for @CynthiaEriVo and abstained from the rest of the voting. #moreblackpeopleplease.”
Jones knows a thing or two about institutions that struggle with diversity. Only around twenty non-white performers have ever been part of the cast of SNL, a show that’s featured more than 150 actors. During her time on the series, she was the target of racist and misogynistic abuse that culminated after her casting in 2016’s gender swapped Ghostbusters.
“Do you think some words on the internet can hurt me?” Jones said on SNL at the time. “I have spent decades getting roasted by comedians…At a certain point, you stop being embarrassed and start being you.”
In tweets about her Oscars votes, Jones wrote that she also cast a ballot for black filmmaker Matthew Cherry’s Hair Love, which is nominated in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.