Oscars Co-Host Wanda Sykes Reveals How She Wanted To Respond Onstage After Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock

Wanda Sykes hosting the 94th Academy Awards
(Image credit: ABC)

It’s been three days since the Oscars aired on ABC, and while there’s certainly enough to discuss regarding the 2022 Academy Award winners, the most talked-about moment from the ceremony remains Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. There have been conflicting takes on the incident, and Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes falls into the camp of supporting Rock. In fact, the actress/comedian even thought up a way to respond to what happened onstage.

Wanda Sykes hosted this past weekend’s Oscars with Regina Hall and Amy Schumer (who clarified on social media that her moment with Kirsten Dunst was scripted). During her appearance on Ellen, Sykes explained how after finishing one of the show's bits, she was in the middle of changing into a new costume, but wanted to see Rock perform. However, the Black-ish actress only made it to the monitor as Smith was leaving the stage, and she had to be informed about what he’d done. Sykes then said the following:

I just felt so awful for my friend Chris. It was sickening. I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatized by it. For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this?’ This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building, and that’s it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross. Plus, I wanted to be able run out after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately, Will couldn’t be here tonight…’

To provide some context, a little over half an hour after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke the latter made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, appearing in G.I. Jane 2 (referring to her bald look, which is a result of alopecia), he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard. As Wanda Sykes sees it though, Will Smith shouldn’t have been allowed to stay in the building, and she could have used that as a way to joke about how he wasn’t around to accept his Oscar. But that’s not what happened; instead, Smith delivered a passionate speech where he indirectly addressed the scuffle with Rock and apologized to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences about what happened.

In the hours following Will Smith’s confrontation with Chris Rock, the Saturday Night Live alum declined to press charges against the Men in Black actor, and Sean Combs, a.k.a. Diddy, who presented after Rock, alleged that the two men squashed their beef later in the night. The next day, Smith formally apologized to Rock, saying he was “out of line and wrong.” Unfortunately, another man named Will Smith ended up having to respond on Twitter when thousands of angry tweets were sent his way.

Wanda Sykes isn’t the only celebrity who disapproved of what Will Smith did. Jim Carrey said he was “sickened” by the actor getting a standing ovation later during the Oscars, and Zoë Kravitz shared similar sentiments on the brouhaha. On the other side of the spectrum, Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Janet Hubert said she was proud of Smith for winning the Oscar and made it clear she’s not Rock’s biggest fan. As for Jada Pinkett Smith, she shared a cryptic message on Instagram saying that “this is a season for healing,” and she’s “here for it.”

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Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.