The 2016 nominations were widely criticised for a lack of representation for black film figures, with critics – including Smith – using the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to promote a boycott of the ceremony.
This year’s Oscars nominations were announced today, with a record set for six black actors picking up nominations, as well as black nominees in other categories.
Responding to the news, Smith told Variety: “I feel really fantastic. It’s a beautiful thing to see. We had a lot of exceptional films this year. I’m glad to see that projects like Hidden Figures, Fences and Moonlight are getting recognition. I’m very proud this morning.”
Smith added: “Because of the state that our country is in, as artists it’s so important we use our platform to help shine light on how we want to be identified as a country. “I look at this as a beautiful step towards that. Just our participation as artists in this time of how we want to represent our country, what is the messaging we want the world to see. As artists we have strong voices. We create strong imagery in regards to the identity of our country. It’s important that we take responsibility for that.”