Amid the 2022 Oscars TV broadcast on Sunday night, there was a moment of silence for the people of Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
Following a performance by Reba McEntire presented by Ukrainian-born actor Mila Kunis, who said he felt “emptied” by recent world events, a message appeared on screen.
“We would like to have a minute of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” reads the screen.
“While cinema is an important way for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is that millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water and emergency services. Resources are scarce and we – collectively as a global community – can do more.
The 30-second clip ended with a call to everyone watching around the world: “We ask that you support Ukraine in any way you can. #StandWithUkraine.
Ahead of the 94th annual ceremony, there were rumors that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would make a surprise virtual appearance during the show to urge celebrities and entertainers to speak out in solidarity with his country.
Zelenskyy’s aides reportedly lobbied the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to show some form of support, according to The New York Times, with Kunis helping coordinate outreach to the Ukrainian government.
Zelenskyy has long had ties to the entertainment industry. Before being elected president of Ukraine, he worked as an actor and comedian, starring for years in the satirical comedy series ‘Servant of the People’, which is now available to stream on Netflix. He also appeared as a contestant in the Ukrainian version of “Dancing with the Stars” and voiced the role of Paddington Bear in the 2014 film, among other past credits.
Amy Schumer, who is co-hosting the ceremony with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, was the first to publicly mention the idea of Zelenskyy appearing at the event, but the academy has not said if he was invited.
“I wanted to find a way to have a Zelenskyy satellite or make a tape or something, just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars,” Schumer said on “The Drew Barrymore Show” earlier this this month. “I think this is a great opportunity to comment on at least a couple of things. I have jokes that highlight the kind of current condition.
Amid speculation that producers rejected Schumer’s idea, Sean Penn, one of Hollywood’s most vocal Ukrainian supporters, threatened to melt down his own Oscar trophy in protest.
“If that turns out to be what is happening, I would encourage everyone involved – even though it may be their time, and I understand that, to celebrate their films – it is much more important their moment to shine, protest and boycott the Oscars,” Penn, who was on the ground at the start of the invasion of Ukraine, told CNN’s Jim Acosta in an interview this week.
The entertainment industry has come out in force to show its support for Ukraine. A slew of stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Jason Momoa, sported blue ribbons on the red carpet provided by the UN refugee agency.
In recent months, many celebrities have publicly condemned Russia’s actions and raised funds for refugees fleeing the country. Perhaps most notably, Kunis, who was born in Ukraine before moving to the United States as a child, and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, have raised nearly $35 million through a GoFundMe campaign for refugees and efforts humanitarian aid.
The couple spoke with Zelenskyy in a video call earlier this month, with the president thanking them directly for their efforts to get help in the war-torn nation.