The row started after Zegler responded to a question on an Instagram post about what she would wear to the Oscars, and said, “I’m not invited so sweatpants and my boyfriend’s flannel.”
Zegler played the female lead in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Distributed by the Walt Disney Studios and released towards the end of 2021, the film marked Zegler’s debut, and earned her a Golden Globe Award. While the film is up for awards in seven categories at the upcoming Oscars, Zegler herself did not earn a nomination.
In a separate reply to the same Instagram post, she added, “I don’t know y’all, I have tried it all but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I will root for West Side Story from my couch and be proud of the work we so tirelessly did three years ago. I hope some last minute miracle occurs and I can celebrate our film in person but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes, I guess.”
A barrage of comments followed expressing outrage over Zegler not being invited despite her film’s multiple nominations.
A user wrote, “How’s the leading actress of a movie that’s up for seven Academy Awards not invited? How does that make any sense?”
Another user said, “Are you joking? No one from Parasite received an acting nomination in 2020, yet the entire cast was invited. She’s the co-lead of a movie up for multiple awards, including Best Picture.”
However, not all those who replied to Zegler’s post expressed disbelief; some even suggested possible reasons behind her non-invitation. “With all due respect, they don’t ever invite every single actor from every single film. It’s not possible. You don’t have name recognition yet. That’s just reality. They don’t even invite every famous actor from each film,” said one user.
This backlash over Zegler’s exclusion comes even as the Academy is still facing criticism for its decision to leave out eight categories from the main event on Sunday. The Academy made that choice as a way to address Oscars’ steady decline in viewership since 2014, but it has been called out for being disrespectful of the technical fields.
The Academy faced further heat when it announced its fifth slate of presenters on Monday.
“So you cut the technical awards and have all these presenters? What will it be? 20 presenters for each awards?” said one Twitter user.
Another user noted, “A surfer, a skateboarder, a rapper, a singer, a few legitimate actors peripheral to the nominated films get the limelight, and the editors, composers, production designers, sound artists, hair and makeup artists, and short filmmakers/documentarians still get screwed.”
Others mentioned that removing these celebrity presenters unrelated to cinema, and removing some of the musical numbers and comedy bits, would cut down the length of the show without having to exclude the technical award presentations.
Some pointed out that the Academy’s decision to include the likes of DJ Khaled and athlete Shaun White, while Zegler was not invited, seemed absurd. “How are Khaled and Shaun White there, but not the star of West Side Story, while her movie is nominated?” questioned one user.
The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences, which curates the Oscars, and the Awards team determine ticket allotments, as per Time. The distribution of tickets takes place on priority basis, with the nominees receiving the first invites – a pair of tickets for every nomination they receive. Presenters and performers, and everyone else associated with the Academy follow, including slots for the show’s broadcast network ABC, the sponsors, the production team, and media.
The remaining tickets are handed out to studios, in proportion to their nominations, and they then decide who gets to attend the Oscars ceremony. In Zegler’s case, the call would have thus rested with Disney.
Neither the Academy, nor Disney, has responded to the social media backlash over the actor’s exclusion.