This year’s Academy Awards show has been shrouded in controversy, but as the saying goes, the show must go on. Oscars producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin announced the first batch of presenters Thursday.
Naturally, the list includes numerous popular figures in entertainment, ranging from longtime favorites like Benicio del Toro and Whoopi Goldberg to more recent stars like Sam Smith and The Weeknd. The group is also comprised of Tina Fey, Kevin Hart, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Gosling, Charlize Theron, and Jacob Tremblay. Not surprisingly, it’s a diverse bunch, considering the fact that the Oscars controversy has focused on diversity (or the lack thereof) within the Academy and the film industry.
“Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,” said Hill and Hudlin during their announcement. “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 first batch of presenters includes several current nominees and past winners. In fact, Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, and Sam Smith will compete for the Oscar for original song. Meanwhile, del Toro, Goldberg, and Theron are all proud owners of the iconic gold statues.
It remains to be seen how viewership will be affected by the controversy, which was sparked after the nominees were announced and only white actors were among those honored. Prominent members of the entertainment industry have opened up about the issue, with many speaking out in favor of or against a boycott of the awards show. The Academy has tried to do damage control since and recently introduced a plan “to improve Oscar diversity.”
The show is set to be hosted by comedian Chris Rock and will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 28, at 7 p.m. ET.