Academy bans Will Smith from Oscars ceremonies for 10 years
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' board of governors has banned Will Smith from attending the Academy Awards for the next 10 years, after the King Richard star slapped comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during the live Oscars telecast on March 27.
"I accept and respect the Academy's decision," Smith said in a statement responding to the ban.
AMPAS' decision came Friday after the board met to discuss further disciplinary measures against Smith. As a result of their investigation, the board ruled that "for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards," according to a statement released by the group's president, David Rubin, and CEO, Dawn Hudson, and obtained by EW.
"The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage," the statement continues. "During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. 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."
Both Rubin and Hudson also expressed thanks to Rock "for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances," and thanked the show's "hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast."
After Smith resigned from the Academy on April 1, leadership moved up the sanctions meeting originally set for April 18, with the goal of discussing further disciplinary action in a "timely fashion," per an internal memo distributed by Rubin and obtained by Variety.
Smith's resignation means that he can no longer vote on nominees or winners in his respective acting branch of the Academy, but he can still be nominated for and win Oscars in the future.
While the board of governors conferred on disciplinary action, concrete details regarding the behind-the-scenes reaction to the slap during the live event remain unclear. Telecast producer Will Packer told Good Morning America that, following the incident, he spoke to Rock — whom he says was joking about the situation — backstage in the immediate aftermath. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that Rock declined to press charges, though Packer said he "immediately went to Academy leadership on site" to convey how he thought Rock wanted them to deal with Smith in the moment.
"'Chris Rock doesn't want that,' I said. 'Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse.' That was Chris' energy. His tone was not retaliatory or aggressive-angry, so I was advocating what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time, because as it has now been explained to me, that was the only option at that point," Packer said. "It has been explained to me that there was a conversation that I was not part of to ask him to voluntarily leave."
A source close to the comedian later told EW that no one ever asked Rock if he wanted Smith to be removed from the ceremony, at which the actor ultimately won Best Actor for his performance in King Richard.
In his acceptance speech, the actor apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but did not directly apologize to Rock — whose joke about the shaved head of Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, was not in the original broadcast script. Smith later released a statement on Instagram addressing Rock.
"I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris," Smith wrote. "I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
EW also previously obtained an internal memo sent to Academy members by Rubin and Hudson that expressed outrage over Smith's behavior, and promised that the group was exploring "appropriate action" and disciplinary measures. Academy bylaws expressly prohibit ethical breaches including "physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome."
Celebrities like Tiffany Haddish and Fresh Prince star Janet Hubert spoke out in support of Smith after the Oscars, though others — including Zoë Kravitz, Jim Carrey, and show hosts Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer — condemned the slap.
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