Will Smith Discusses What Parenthood Has Been Like For Him In The Aftermath Of The Oscars Slap

Will Smith accepting his Oscar for King Richard at the 2022 Academy Awards
(Image credit: ABC)

These last few months have been very interesting for Will Smith. It was in March that the star went viral after he slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, and his actions have been heavily debated since. Following a wave of backlash and retreat from the spotlight, Smith is now out and about once more and promoting his latest film, Emancipation. The star has also been addressing the slap during the press tour, though, as well as aspects of his personal life. On that note, Smith is discussing what parenthood has been like for him in the aftermath of the Academy Awards debacle. 

Will Smith is father to three children: 30-year-old Trey (born from Smith’s ex-wife, Sheree Zampino), 24-year-old Jaden and 22-year-old Willow (with the latter two born from the actor’s current wife, Jada Pinkett Smith). The A-list actor seems to have a firm relationship with his kids but, as he recently explained, things haven’t always been easy. Yet Smith has seen improvements in his relationships with his children and even calls this past year “the greatest period of [his] fatherhood.” He also dropped some wisdom that he’s picked up:

This has been probably the greatest period of my fatherhood. I was an OK father for [Trey,] my first son. I got a little bit better with Jaden. I got my sea legs with Willow, and probably the last couple of years of my life I had sufficiently suffered enough to have real wisdom. This last year with my kids has been the best parenting. If I had to say something to guide someone about it is, first and foremost, everybody sucks at the beginning. It’s OK to not be good at it. It’s OK to make mistakes and the best thing you can do for your kids is learn and grow yourself.

Many people will tell you that parenting isn’t always easy and that one really has to work at it. The King Richard star seemed to be conveying that very notion during his appearance on Showtime’s ALL THE SMOKE and, apparently, he was thinking about his parenting style even before the Oscars situation. He went on to explain that he first experienced a bit of distance between him and one of his kids a couple of years ago: 

Probably about two years ago, I guess I noticed a little bit of a lack in my ability to connect and love on a deep level. I started noticing it with Willow … and I noticed that I wasn’t as proficient at connecting and loving somebody. I could provide. I’ll lay it out. But in those moments when my kids were reaching for me, I was failing at the depth that they were seeking. And I decided, like, ‘What did that mean?’ And I felt that I had to deeply and truly examine my life. I had to examine my motives.

One can only imagine how difficult it is to balance your domestic and professional goals when you’re one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. When you’ve achieved as much as Will Smith has, you can definitely be tempted to let the latter set of objectives consume you. He clearly wants to be a firm father and, as he also mentioned in the same interview, that connects to the fact that Smith saw his own dad abuse his mother as a child. It would be an understatement to say that positive family ties are incredibly important, especially when you’ve been going through a turbulent period like Smith’s.

Shortly after the slap occurred, the Oscar winner faced an array of backlash from a number of people in Hollywood. However, he did receive support from a number of people, including his children. Both Willow and Jaden Smith posted cryptic messages in the aftermath, yet they seemed to indicate that they were in their dad’s corner. During a recent interview with Trevor Noah, Smith got candid about the night of the televised moment, calling it “horrific.” He also indicated that he’s used the last several months for self-analyzation and has been reckoning with the fact that he (like many others) is a flawed individual. 

Of course, people only continue to evolve as time goes on, and the star will more than likely seek to work on himself even more – as both a man and as a parent. If anything, it’s good to hear that the bond between him and his kids has further bloomed over the last several months. 

You can see Will Smith’s Emancipation is now playing in select theaters and will be available to stream with an AppleTV+ subscription starting December 9.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.