The actress, who spoke out about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy last year and chose not to attend the ceremony, recently told Variety the diversity throughout this year’s categories is “a beautiful thing to see.”
“We had a lot of exceptional films this year,” she added. “I’m glad to see that projects like ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Fences’ and ‘Moonlight’ are getting recognition. I’m very proud this morning.”
Smith explained how important it is for artists to use their platforms to share stories that represent “how we want to be identified as a country,” suggesting that “artists in this time” consider “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,” she said.
In 2016, Smith was extremely vocal with criticisms about the lack of diversity among the Academy Award nominees. The actress expressed her disappointment on social media, saying, “At the Oscars ... people of color are always welcomed to give out awards ... even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?”
The actress then announced she would not attend the ceremony.
Smith agreed that the 2017 nominations are a step in the right direction, but also acknowledged the fact that there is still plenty to be done.
“I’m very proud to be part of the artistic community today,” she told Variety. “We have a ways to go, but we’ve also come a long way. We’ve come a long way as a country, and we’re going to keep stepping.”