Steve Harvey Opens Up About Will Smith Oscars Slap During Speech At Atlanta Law School

At this point, it feels like just about everyone has had something to say about Will Smith’s Oscars slap. Celebrities ranging from Jim Carrey to Zoë Kravitz have responded since Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards. Responses to the situation have varied, with some chastising the Best Actor winner and others coming to his defense. Steve Harvey has become one of the latest to share thoughts and did so while speaking at an Atlanta law school. 

The media personality was giving a keynote address at Georgia State University, where he discussed various topics with law students. Those who watch and listen to the Family Feud staple know that he rarely minces words when speaking on a subject, and this was the case when he weighed in on Will Smith’s actions at the awards ceremony. Putting himself in the shoes of fellow comedian Chris Rock, the radio host explained that he would’ve reacted differently had he been slapped:

I’m a Christian but I’m really undeveloped. I don’t have high-level Christianity. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m like a 2. That’s the level of Christianity I can work on. You slap T.D. Jakes, he’ll turn the other cheek. You slap me? If you sit back in your seat, Jada [Will’s wife] would have to move out of the way. That’s the type of Christian I am.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock specifically said that he was looking forward to seeing Pinkett Smith headline a G.I. Jane sequel, a reference to the actress’ now-bald head (a result of alopecia). Rock, who declined to press charges, has yet to speak in depth about the situation, though he has mentioned it in some offhanded ways during his stand-up gigs. The King Richard star has since formally apologized and has been banned from the Academy for a decade as punishment.

Many have provided their own thoughts on why Will Smith decided on that course of action. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Steve Harvey went on to say that he believes Smith did it because he knew he could get away with it in the moment. Harvey referred to the slap as a “punk” move and added that he “lost a lot of respect for [Smith].”

Other stars have been a bit blunter when discussing the situation. Jim Carrey said he was “sickened” by the fact that the Bad Boys alum still received a standing ovation when accepting his Oscar. Carrey also declared that he would’ve sued the actor for $200 million. Someone who also found it “sickening” was Academy Awards host Wanda Sykes, who said that she’d wanted to respond on stage

On the other side of the fence is Fresh Prince alum Janet Hubert, who said that she was “proud” of her former co-star. While she stated that both his and Chris Rock’s actions were “incorrect,” she believed that the comic shouldn't have made a joke at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense. Denzel Washington, who took Will Smith aside during the Oscars, also seemed to question whether the public could truly judge the actor for what he did. 

Although many stars have weighed in at this point, it seems many veteran comedians like Steve Harvey have particularly strong thoughts. This is mainly due to the implications that they believe the Academy Awards incident could have on stand-up shows moving forward. (Dave Chappelle was recently attacked while on stage.) With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if more comics join Harvey in getting candid about the now-infamous slap as time goes on.

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.