Philly’s own Kevin Hart has been tapped to host the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in 2019, a gig the comedian has called the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time,” Hart, 39, wrote in an announcement on Instagram Tuesday. “I will be sure to make this years Oscars a special one. I appreciate @TheAcademy for the opportunity.”
The ceremony will mark Hart’s first time as host of the Oscars. He takes the gig from late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, who has emceed the Academy Awards for the past two years.
Under Kimmel’s reign as host, ratings for the annual ceremony declined, reaching an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers back in March, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In response, the Academy has said the televised ceremony won’t run more than three hours, and that six to eight of the 24 award categories will not be announced live on the air.
While 2019 will serve as Hart’s first time as host of the Oscars, it isn’t his first time presenting an awards show. Previously, he hosted the MTV Movie Awards alongside Jumanji co-star Dwayne Johnson in 2016.
Despite Hart’s promise to “rise to the occasion” as host, some folks on social media weren’t as excited as the comedian about his latest gig:
Others accused Hart of being homophobic, pointing to a 2015 interview in which the comedian said that “one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay,” and that “if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.” With those comments in mind, critics said that Hart hosting a major Hollywood event would not be appropriate:
Supporters, meanwhile, noted that Hart’s role as host could make the Oscars a more diverse event, and help alleviate some of the “#OscarsSoWhite” criticism that gained attention in 2016:
Hacks, however, focused on Hart’s height, which many compared to the height of the famous Oscar statuette, which stands at just over 13 inches tall. Hart, by most estimations, is about 5′4″:
Hart last month also faced criticism over a “cowboys and Indians” themed birthday party he held for his son Kenzo’s first birthday. Critics claimed the party, which Hart showed on social media, was culturally insensitive — a point Hart called “dumb” in a recent response on his SiriusXM show, Straight from the Hart.
“The reason why I’m even bringing this dumb s— up is because it shows just how stupid our world is becoming with opinions,” Hart said. “This isn’t a racial slur that people are doing and being malicious with. This is a game that’s been played for years.
The 91st Academy Awards ceremony airs Feb. 24 on ABC.