Actress Melissa Leo has defended posing for a provocative photograph to rally for Oscars votes, insisting the "awards process" is about "pimping yourself out."
The star is nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the upcoming ceremony, and is facing competition from her The Fighter co-star Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom).
Leo donned a tight low-cut black dress to pose for a sexy promo shot, which ran in a number of Hollywood trade magazines and online with the tagline 'Consider' in a bid to gain votes ahead of the prizegiving. She came under fire for the saucy photo, but the star has defended her decision to flaunt herself for the Oscar.
Leo tells the New York Times, "This entire awards process to some degree is about pimping yourself out. I'm confident my fans will understand the ads were about showing a different side of myself."
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she adds, "The race, all this is sorta unfamiliar to me. But it might mean more work, so that's interesting. The Oscars - it's this illustrious group, a jury of my peers. It's also a marketing (thing). It's show business."
"I didn't ask that this opportunity for more come to me. I've just done what I've done. I think I'm finding out why I watch those competitive cooking shows, 'cause people aren't on about who they are or how they're dressed. It's about what they're doing."