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Anohni, the first transgender performer to be nominated for an Oscar, is boycotting the Feb. 28 event.
In an essay for Pitchfork, the best original song nominee says she wasn’t asked to perform her song during the show and will not be attending this year’s ceremony.
“I am the only transgendered performer ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award, and for that I thank the artists who nominated me,” began Anohni in the essay.
She continued, “I was in Asia when I found out the news. I rushed home to prepare something, in case the music nominees would be asked to perform. Everyone was calling with excited congratulations. A week later, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and the Weeknd were rolled out as the evening’s entertainment with more performers ‘soon to be announced.’ Confused, I sat and waited. Would someone be in touch? But as time bore on I heard nothing. I was besieged with people asking me if I was going to perform.”
Anohni is nominated for best original song for her collaboration with J. Ralph on “Manta Ray,” which appears in the documentary Racing Extinction. Oscar producers omitted a performance of “Manta Ray” and David Lang’s song “Simple Song #3” due to “time constraints.”
Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and The Weeknd are all set to perform their nominated songs from The Hunting Ground, Spectre and Fifty Shades of Grey, respectively, while Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, not nominated in any category, is set to give a special performance at this year’s ceremony.
“Everyone told me that I still ought to attend, that a walk down the red carpet would still be ‘good for my career,'” Anohni continued. “Last night I tried to force myself to get on the plane to fly to L.A. for all the nominee events, but the feelings of embarrassment and anger knocked me back, and I couldn’t get on the plane. I imagined how it would feel for me to sit amongst all those Hollywood stars, some of the brave ones approaching me with sad faces and condolences.
“There I was, feeling a sting of shame that reminded me of America’s earliest affirmations of my inadequacy as a transperson. I turned around at the airport and went back home.”
Anohni goes on to talk about how fellow artists, including the late Lou Reed, had previously advocated for her when she was trying to break in.
She blames America’s monetary lust on the continued lack of diversity in venues like the Oscars, calling celebrities “trophies of billionaire corporations whose only intention it is to manipulate you into giving them your consent and the last of your money.”
Anohni ends the essay by writing, “America, a country that is no longer contained by physical borders, aspires only for more power and control. I want to maximize my usefulness and advocate for the preservation of biodiversity and the pursuit of human decency within my sphere of influence.”
Read Anohni’s full essay here.
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