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Will Smith Banned From Attending Oscars for 10 Years

The Academy Board of Governors handed down the punishment in response to Smith's slap of Chris Rock

Will Smith crying
Will Smith, Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
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    The Academy has banned Will Smith from attending the Oscars and associated events for a period of 10 years.

    The punishment was announced by the Academy Board of Governors following a meeting on Friday morning. The meeting had originally been scheduled for April 18th, but was pushed up after Smith announced his resignation from the Academy and said he would not contest any additional punishments.

    “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,” the Academy’s president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”

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    In a brief statement in response to the punishment, Smith said, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”

    Prior to announcing the winner for documentary feature at last month’s Oscars, presenter Chris Rock cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, prompting her husband Will Smith to walk up to Rock and strike him with his open hand.

    The US broadcast quickly cut the sound, but the international feed captured the full interaction. Rock said, “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” Smith returned to his seat, where he hollered, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”

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    “Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock retorted. Smith yelled again, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!”

    Pinkett Smith announced last year that she had shaved her head after struggling with alopecia. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “Now at this point, I can only laugh… y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia. Just all of a sudden, one day…it just showed up like that. Now, this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So, I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions…Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”

    Smith addressed the outburst during his acceptance speech for Best Actor (an award he won for his performance in King Richard). “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things,” Smith said.

    However, in his speech he did not apologize to Rock, and just hours later, he was seen rapping and dancing along to his song “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” at an Oscars afterparty, seemingly unfazed by the evening’s events.

    In a statement the following Monday, Smith finally apologized to Rock directly. He 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.” He apologized again when he resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, adding that he would “accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”

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    Even though police were ready to arrest Smith at the Oscars, Rock declined to file a police report, and he has thus far chosen not to address the incident at recent standup shows.

    Beyond his suspension from the Academy, Smith has seen several of his upcoming film projects put on hold. And, despite the controversy, the actor still has a few supporters in his corner: Denzel Washington believes “the devil got a hold of him that night” and thus, “who are we to condemn?” Meanwhile, director Michael Bay is more concerned about the ongoing war in Ukraine.

    Read the Academy’s full statement on Smith’s punishment below:

    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.

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