Wait, Is Will Smith Allowed at the Oscars This Year?
The 2023 Academy Awards are upon us, which means it has officially been one year since Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Richard Williams, Venus and Serena Williams' father, in King Richard. That kind of triumph would usually be a career high point and a celebrity's most memorable moment from the evening.
But of course, Smith's win came shortly after an incident that dominated the pop culture conversation for months afterwards. While presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary, comedian Chris Rock began riffing at some of the celebs in the audience, and after making an ill-advised joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, comparing her to G.I. Jane in reference to her hair loss due to alopecia, Smith stormed the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Hard.
"Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth," Smith shouted.
Smith has since issued a public apology video, in which he expressed his remorse to Rock directly, as well as to his wife and family, and his fans. He has also stated that he "understands" if some people skip his most recent film, the factually-inspired Emancipation, in which he portrays an enslaved man named Peter Smith. "If someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready," he said.
Smith's public contrition hasn't been enough to mitigate the backlash against his actions, however: a sequel to his Netflix fantasy movie Bright was scrapped in the aftermath of the slap, and production on the fourth Bad Boys movie also reportedly slowed all the way down.
Will Smith won't be attending the Oscars this year. Or next year.
On April 2, 2022, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and said that he would "accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate." Six days later, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy president David Rubin released a statement announcing that Smith would be banned from attending the Oscars for a full decade.
"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," they said. While Smith is prohibited from participating in events, it should be noted that he is still able to be nominated for an Academy Award—although the likelihood of this occurring in the near future seems slim.
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