After comedian Kevin Hart stepped down last week as 2019's Oscars host following the unearthing of past homophobic tweets and jokes, speculation and opinions quickly surfaced online about who would and should take his place at the February awards show. Among those most mentioned was lesbian comic Wanda Sykes.
“Wanda would be lit,” Emmy-winning writer and actress Lena Waithe told Variety. “I vote for Wanda or Donald [Glover] or get Chris Rock back in there.” Ultimately, Waithe, who has previously called for an increase in black media representation, said she hopes “it’s somebody black and somebody funny.”
Sykes, an Emmy- and GLAAD-winning entertainer, came out publicly in 2008. In addition to stand-up comedy, her long TV resume includes appearances on "The Chris Rock Show," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Black-ish."
Bryan Guffey, board president for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, said Sykes’ intersectionality as a queer black women would help to “rectify the harm done against the LGBTQ community” by Hart’s tweets.
“Wanda Sykes is very funny and a brilliant comedian who also is a black woman, so it makes a lot of sense for her to be the replacement,” Guffey said. “We’d get a great host and someone who is a direct response to the homophobia.”
Hart’s tweets, which date back to 2009 , use language that many people within and outside the LGBTQ community perceived as homophobic. In his most cited tweet, which has since been removed, he said, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’”
Many of the entertainers that have been suggested as replacements for Hart, who is black, are LGBTQ, black, women or — like Sykes — all of the above.
Following Hart’s resignation as the 2019 Academy Awards host, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michael Che commented, “If Kevin Hart isn’t clean enough to host the Oscars, then no black comic is.” For some, Che’s comments reinforced the importance of having a black entertainer replace Hart.
Ireland-based graphic designer and comedy fan Jono Carton called Che’s comments “harmful" and said it’s imperative to fight the notion that blackness equals homophobia. He took to Twitter and responded to Che's remarks with a list of black women entertainers, including Sykes, that he thought would be suitable replacements for Hart.
"Che’s comments create a false narrative that to be a black comic, you are inherently homophobic, which is truly abhorrent in relation to LGBT rights and in an age of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Carton told NBC News. “There are plenty of black comedians, especially underrepresented female black comedians, that I’m sure many people would like to see in place of Kevin Hart.”
Michael Alvarez, a comedy fan and recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, agreed. He took to Twitter and said Sykes would be his top choice, followed by Queen Latifah, Monique and Whoopi Goldberg.
“Not only is Wanda Sykes a very successful black woman in comedy — something that is very rare in the entertainment industry — but she’s also a great role model to the LGBTQ community,” Alvarez told NBC News. “Perhaps most importantly, she’s funny! She’s someone who is universally adored and could definitely bring our country together in these divided times.”
After Hart’s resignation, New Yorker staff writer Vinson Cunningham took to Twitter, writing simply “Wanda Sykes,” to demonstrate that for him, there’s only one option.
Cunningham, who described Sykes as a “genius” who has “never really gotten her due” in the mainstream, said Sykes is the only one who could get him to tune into the awards program, which last year saw a nearly 20 percent dip in viewership compared to the previous year.
“Let’s put it this way: I’m probably not going to watch the Oscars, but I definitely would if Sykes was hosting,” he said.
So, what does Wanda Sykes have to say about about all of this Academy Awards chatter?
“I think Siri and Alexa should host the Oscars,” she joked on Twitter.