A year after Jada Pinkett Smith said she planned to sit out the 2016 Oscars to protest the the show's choice to nominate only white actors for awards, Smith says she's much more optimistic about the show's future.

The actress says in a new interview with Variety that she's heartened by the fact that the 2017 Oscars have nominated seven actors of color. Moreover, she's thrilled that films that honor black culture and stories are finding recognition.

"I feel really fantastic. It’s a beautiful thing to see,” she said. “We had a lot of exceptional films this year. I’m glad to see that projects like Hidden Figures, Fences, and Moonlight are getting recognition. I’m very proud this morning."

Smith also said it's crucial that art reflect the nation's current political climate, and emphasized the need for American film to represent citizens from all walks of life.

"Because of the state that our country is in, as artists it’s so important we use our platform to help shine light on how we want to be identified as a country,” she said. “I look at this as a beautiful step towards that. Just our participation as artists in this time of how we want to represent our country, what is the messaging we want the world to see. As artists we have strong voices. We create strong imagery in regards to the identity of our country. It’s important that we take responsibility for that."

Smith harshly criticized the Oscars in a January 2016 Facebook post in which she encouraged fellow people of color to leave their seats to the Oscars empty if they felt the show was slighting them.

"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” she says in the video above. “So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us, differently"

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