By Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag on Twitter on Saturday said she will watch and tweet about a 1999 coming-of-age movie featuring three black actors rather than Sunday night's showing of the Academy Awards, joining a growing list of activists and entertainers snubbing the event for its lack of diversity.
April Reign, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com, said she will watch "The Wood," starring Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones and Taye Diggs on Netflix on Sunday night as the Oscars show airs on ABC.
Reign, the keynote speaker on Saturday at "The #BlackTwitter Conference" at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, is credited with launching the hashtag in January after last year's nominees best actor nominees were published.
"What I’m doing is attempting to amplify the discussion," Reign said at Saturday's conference, hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists. "The Academy can only nominate quality work that is made, so the onus still has to be on Hollywood to put those films out there."
Reign said she launched the tag initially as a joke, but it quickly went viral and has become a major venue for discussing race and Hollywood. The furor over the all-white line up of best-actor nominees prompted several big-name boycott announcements. Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith all said they will not attend.
Directors Ava Duvernay and Ryan Coogler, who was snubbed for a best director nomination for his Rocky sequel "Creed" even as Sylvester Stallone earned a best-supporting actor nomination, are planning to host the #JusticeForFlint benefit concert in Flint, Michigan, in support of residents suffering from its water crisis.
Business mogul Russell Simmons has partnered with Fusion to launch the first-ever "All Def Movie Awards," which aims to celebrate diversity in film.
#BlackTwitter16, the tag associated with Saturday's conference at Columbia, was among the top-trending hashtags on Twitter.
"Black Twitter has gone from being seen as these frivolous conversations that black people are having at night," said Sherri Williams, a post-doctoral fellow and professor at Wake Forest University who was among the panelist at the conference. "Now it’s an entity that people are taking seriously."
(Reporting By Gina Cherelus; Editing by Dan Burns, Bernard Orr)