Slap Saga: Will Smith Banned from Attending Oscars for 10 years
Hollywood’s film academy on Friday banned Will Smith from attending the Oscars for 10 years after the best actor winner slapped presenter Chris Rock on stage at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 27.
The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the action at a meeting on Friday, a week after Smith had resigned from the group.
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year,” academy President David Rubin and Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in a statement.
“However, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.”
In a statement, Smith said, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.” The actor has issued statements apologizing to Rock, the Oscars producers, nominees and viewers.
In addition to the Oscars, the film world’s most prestigious awards, the board banned Smith from all other academy events and programs, in person or virtually, for 10 years.
At the March 27 televised ceremony, Smith strode up to the stage after comedian Rock made a joke about the appearance of the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, then smacked Rock across the face.
Less than an hour later, Smith gave a tearful speech on stage as he accepted the best actor award for his role in “King Richard,” portraying the father of tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams.
After the ceremony, he was seen dancing at Vanity Fair’s annual post-Oscars party.
Rock’s joke about Pinkett Smith made a reference to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane” in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. It was unclear whether Rock was aware that she has a condition that causes hair loss.
The academy came under criticism for allowing Smith to stay in his seat at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood after the outburst and let him take the stage to accept his award.
In the Friday statement, the academy’s leaders said they did not adequately address the situation during the telecast.
“For this, we are sorry,” they said. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
They also expressed “deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances.
“We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast,” they said.
“We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.” (NAN)