In his searing opening monologue for the 88th Academy Awards—what he dubbed the “White People’s Choice Awards”—comedian Chris Rock relentlessly roasted Hollywood’s racism, in a year criticized for only nominating white actors.
“We want opportunity,” he said. “We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.” Watch the full clip above.
It was, in fact, a year marked by stellar performances from actors of color, including Michael B. Jordan, Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Teyonah Parris, O’Shea Jackson, Ava DuVernay, and David Oyelowo. And Chris Rock, without pulling any punches, called the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences out on it: “If they nominated a host, I wouldn’t even get this job.”
He went on: “Is Hollywood racist? You damn right Hollywood’s racist,” Rock said. “Hollywood is sorority racist: We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.”
Since its list of nominees was unveiled in January, the Academy has been criticized for its failure to nominate a single minority actor for the second year in a row. The move fueled outrage from celebrities, with some like Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith refusing to attend this year’s ceremony. There was also an online campaign using the hashtag #OscarSoWhite. (One bright spot: Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is vying to become the first director since Joseph Mankiewicz to win best director for the second year in a row for The Revenant.)