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Will Smith Resigns From The Academy After Slapping Chris Rock At The Oscars

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

For the past week, Hollywood has been processing and discussing Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock at Sunday’s telecast of the 94th Academy Awards before accepting his first Oscar for his role in King Richard. The latest development in the situation is that Smith has formally decided to resign his membership from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

In light of the decision, Smith released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets. It reads: 

I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.

Just prior to Will Smith’s resignation, The Academy released a statement regarding its disciplinary proceedings, noting that the actor violated numerous standards of conduct, including “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.” The actor was given 15 days notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, along with the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. 

The planned Academy board meeting, set to take place on April 18, would include possible disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion. In response to this, it’s clear Will Smith has decided to jump the gun and go ahead and resign. Smith shared he was “heartbroken,” but would “accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.” 

Following Will Smith’s notice of resignation, The Academy has responded. As the statement says: 

We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.

Will Smith resigning from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences means that the actor can no longer vote at the Oscars. However, he can reportedly still be nominated, attend future Oscar ceremonies and keep the award he won for King Richard. We’ll have to see how The Academy’s review concludes the situation in a couple weeks for a final resolution to the incident. 

During the Sunday telecast, Chris Rock told a joke at the expense of Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, and the actor walked up on stage and slapped Rock in front of the Hollywood community and viewers watching the ceremony from around the world. Rock declined to press charges following the situation, but The Academy started a “formal review” focused on the incident to “explore further action and consequences” based on their bylaws.

Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock publicly the day following the incident, sharing that he was “out of line.” Since then, a host of celebrities have made their opinions on the situation known, including Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes calling Smith’s actions “sickening.” The show’s producer, Will Packer, revealed that he was ready to have Smith removed from the Dolby Theatre by the police, but Chris Rock asked no action be taken that night. We will continue to update you on the situation as it continues to unfold. 

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