Kobe Bryant’s Oscar win in the midst of the #MeToo movement raised a few eyebrows among Academy Awards viewers,
but it doesn’t seem to have fazed the former basketball star.
“This is not supposed to happen,” a grinning Bryant, 39, told Jimmy Kimmel of his statuette. “I’m supposed to play basketball, not write something that wins an Oscar.”
Bryant shared in the win for Dear Basketball in the best animated short category, which prompted users on social media to call out a past sexual assault case. At 24 years old, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. He was arrested on felony charges at the time, but the case was dropped when the accuser was unwilling to testify.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryant said through his attorney when the charges were dropped. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
The woman then filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court.
On Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday night, Bryant did not address the controversy directly, but called Hollywood “a fascinating industry to be a part of” that comes with new responsibilities. “I think for us going forward, how do I carry this night beyond this night?” he said.
“Now there’s a greater sense of responsibility. How do I provide more opportunities for even more diverse and new voices to be heard in this industry?” he added. “In the animation business, there’s a serious lack of diversity.”