• African American entertainers Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee have called for a boycott of the 2016 Oscars. (AAP)Source: AAP
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19 Jan 2016 - 11:23 AM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2016 - 11:50 AM

African-American director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith said on Monday they will boycott next month's Academy Awards ceremony because black actors had been shut out of the Oscar nominations.

The Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for the second year in a row. The lack of African American nominees led to the revival of the Twitter feed #OscarsSoWhite, which had emerged in 2015.

Lee, the director of such films as Do the Right Thing and 2015's Chi-Raq, said he was coinciding his boycott announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches," Lee wrote under the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

"40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?!" said Lee, who was awarded an honourary Oscar in November.

Pinkett Smith, who appeared in two Matrix movies, also said she would stay away from the Feb. 28 (March 1, AEDT) awards ceremony.

"Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream," she said in a video posted to Facebook.

Her husband Will Smith, who stars in the football injury drama Concussion, and Idris Elba, who portrayed an African warlord in Beasts of No Nation, were among the black actors shunned this year.

The black cast and director of hip hop biopic Straight Outta Compton were also left out of the race.

'Straight Outta Compton' producer on lack of Oscar diversity: 'It's embarrassing'
Producer makes impassioned plea for Academy, and Hollywood at large, to "do better" to acknowledge the work of people of colour.

The boycott statements came after comedy Ride Along 2, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, pushed Star Wars: The Force Awakens from its position atop the weekend box office.

Gil Robertson, president of the African-American Film Critics Association, responded to their calls for a boycott on Sunday with the following statement: "I think it would be a mistake to boycott anything. The black community needs to understand that receiving an Oscar nomination is a big deal for anyone, regardless of race. Under Cheryl Boone Isaac's leadership, the Academy is moving closer to getting in step with the real world. Change takes time."

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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