Will Smith barred from Oscars for 10 years over Chris Rock slap

Courtesy of MNG Will Smith

Almost two weeks after Will Smith shocked viewing audiences by slapping comedian Chris Rock for joking about his wife at the 94th Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it was banning the Best Actor winner from attending the ceremony for 10 years.

Although barred from attending for a decade, Smith will not have his Oscar revoked and will remain eligible for future Oscar nominations.

The controversial moment occurred when Rock, who was there to present the Oscar for Best Documentary, told an impromptu joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, reportedly unaware that the actress suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss.

Smith at first appeared to laugh at the joke, but then went on stage and slapped Rock, stunning audience members and the show’s producers, effectively derailing the rest of the ceremony.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences addressed the criticism it received for not removing the actor after the assault. Instead, Smith was allowed to return to his seat where he shouted obscenities at Rock.

Later in the evening, he collected the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams in “King Richard” and received a standing ovation from some in the crowd.

“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room,” the Academy noted in its statement. “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.
 
“Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board has decided, 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.”
 
The release went on to say, “We want to express our 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.
 
“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”

Smith offered an apology last week in a statement on social media and resigned from the Academy. He has reportedly accepted the 10-year ban. Rock, meanwhile, has not publicly commented on the assault, telling sold-out comedy show audiences that he was still “processing” the incident and will address it in the future.

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