LOS ANGELES, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 (UPI) — African-American artists Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Hart and Pharrell Williams were among the first presenters announced Thursday for the upcoming Oscars ceremony.
Producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin also said The Weeknd, Benicio Del Toro,Tina Fey, Ryan Gosling, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Charlize Theron and Jacob Tremblay would appear on the telecast, which will be hosted by Chris Rock Feb. 28 on ABC.
“Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,” Hill and Hudlin said in a joint statement in revealing the first round of presenters.
“Together they represent the many thrilling ways stories can be shared about the human experience, and we’re honored they will be part of the celebration.”
The Oscars has been the focus of a media firestorm for weeks after only white people were nominated in the acting categories for a second consecutive year. The revelation prompted Hollywood couple Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and filmmaker Spike Lee to publicly declare they would not attend the gala to protest the lack of diversity among the nominees.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars, swiftly responded to the backlash by announcing plans to include more people of color in its membership and governing board.