The 94th Annual Academy Awards were a night to remember. Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons. During the live broadcast from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, comedian Chris Rock went on stage to present the award for Best Documentary. While on stage, Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of Aladdin star Will Smith. Smith did not take kindly to the joke and walked up on stage and did the unthinkable. He slapped Chris Rock across the face. Rock was shocked as Smith walked away. From his seat, Smith yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***in mouth.”
The fallout from the slap was swift and extreme. Smith had a number of projects tabled, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held an emergency phone call to discuss what its options were. In response to the Board’s meeting, Smith sent them a letter, officially resigning as a member of the Academy. Rock announced not long after the incident that he was declining to press charges against the actor.
While the Board was not supposed to meet until mid-April to discuss repercussions against Smith, they moved the meeting up and have come to a decision. On April 8, the Academy announced that it would be banning Will Smith from attending the Oscars for a period of 10 years.
The Academy made the following statement:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Will Smith resigned from the Academy by the time this decision was made, but the Academy chose to continue with its investigation into his actions. The day after the slap-heard-round-the-world, Smith issued an official apology to both his fans and Chris Rock. He had apologized to the Academy during his Best Actor Academy Award acceptance speech, but did not apologize to Rock at this time. Smith won the for his role as in the film .
The Academy has been in hot water since the slap, as many accused them of not taking action quickly enough. It was reported that Smith had been asked to leave the show after the smack, but he refused. Security did not make him leave, and he later received a standing ovation when he won — another issue as many people saw that applause as condoning violence.