At a gala inside the hotel, actor David Oyelowo was about to speak his mind.
"The academy has a problem," he announced as he was presenting Boone Isaacs with the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "It's a problem that needs to be solved."
Oyelowo went unrecognized by academy voters last year for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma." He said Monday night that Boone Isaacs had pulled him aside to talk about it.
"A year ago, I did a film called 'Selma,' and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then," he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable."
Earlier in the day, director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced that they would be boycotting the Academy Awards ceremony next month in protest.
"We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?" Lee wrote on Instagram. "And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!"
As The Post's Emily Yahr noted, Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November, directed the acclaimed "Chi-Raq," which didn't receive any nominations. Pinkett Smith's husband, Will Smith, garnered awards buzz (and a Golden Globe nod) for his lead role in "Concussion," but he was also left off the Oscars list.
"The academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose," she said in the video.
She added: "Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful and let's not forget it.
"So let's let the academy do them, with all grace and love, and let's do us differently. I got nothing but love."
Still, Boone Isaacs said in a statement Monday that she was "heartbroken and frustrated" over the issue:
I'd like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year's nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.
In his speech, Oyelowo asked the audience to stand behind Boone Isaacs.
"The reason why the Oscars are so important is because it is the zenith, it is the epitome, it is the height of celebration of artistic endeavor within the filmmaking community," he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "We grow up aspiring, dreaming, longing to be accepted into that august establishment because it is the height of excellence. I would like to walk away and say it doesn't matter, but it does, because that acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live in."
But, he said: "This institution doesn't reflect its president and it doesn't reflect this room. I am an academy member, and it doesn't reflect me, and it doesn't reflect this nation."