More than 10 years ago, Chris Rock said he would only host the Oscars again under one circumstance.
“If there’s a lot of black people on it, I will host the show again,” he joked on “Late Show With David Letterman” in 2005 (in a video dug up by Vulture). “There were a lot of black people that night. Jamie Foxx, Morgan, Beyoncé — it was like the Def Oscar Jam.” He makes the comments around the 3:05 mark.
The 11-year-old comment now carries much more power in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated awards conversations for the second year in a row.
Rock signed on to host the 2016 Oscars long before the slate of all-white acting nominees was announced. After the nominations inspired such backlash, Rock’s involvement was called into question. Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin laid to rest those rumors at the NAACP Image Awards lunch, confirming that Rock’s opening monologue would address the #OscarsSoWhite conversation in a big way. Rock reportedly reworked his entire set of jokes when such figures as Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith announced they would be boycotting the ceremony.
The Academy has awarded Oscars to just 14 black actors in its history. The 88th Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 28.