Los Angles

The Academy Awards has announced its line-up of presenters and performers for this year’s Oscars, as it battles an ongoing row about diversity.

Among those taking part in the ceremony are Benicio del Toro, Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Hart. ‘Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,’ said the producers. The Oscars has been overshadowed by a row about the lack of diversity, with some black stars boycotting the show.

The Academy announced the first slate of presenters for the 88th Oscars telecast in Los Angeles on Thursday. Other performers and presenters taking part include Tina Fey, Ryan Gosling, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Charlize Theron, Jacob Tremblay, The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams.

‘Together they represent the many thrilling ways stories can be shared about the human experience, and we’re honoured they will be part of the celebration,’ Oscars producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin said.

The announcement comes after film director Spike Lee’s suggestion that quotas might need to be introduced for black, Asian and minority ethnic actors. All 20 Oscar nominees for acting are white for the second consecutive year. A slew of actors later backed Lee’s announcement that he could not support the ‘lily white’ awards show. Among them was Will Smith, who many thought had been overlooked in the best actor category this year for his role as a forensic pathologist in sports drama Concussion.

The star, who has been Oscar nominated twice previously, told the BBC he was ‘very pleased at how quickly and aggressively’ the Academy responded to the issue, announcing new measures aimed at diversifying its membership last week. However, he said he did not think the controversy was a racial issue, but a broader issue. ‘I want to be very clear about the spirit in what I’m saying - this is far beyond me,’ he said. ‘This has nothing to do with me or awards. That’s a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me this is more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.

‘It’s not us and them, it’s ‘we’. I’m a member of the Academy so it’s much more a domestic family issue than a civil rights issue. It’s a problem we all have to solve.’