Following the massive outcry over his ill-fated slap of Chris Rock, Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Smith was already facing expulsion from the Academy following an investigation into the incident at the Academy Awards on Sunday, in which he walked on stage and slapped Rock, who had just made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her alopecia diagnosis.
The following is the text of the statement, which was released on Friday afternoon:
“I have reacted immediately to the Academy’s notice of disciplinary hearing, and I fully accept any and all repercussions for my actions.” My behavior at the 94th Academy Awards was shocking, terrible, and unforgivable. Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home are among people I have injured.
I betrayed the Academy’s confidence. I took away the opportunity for other nominees and winners to celebrate and be recognized for their outstanding efforts. I’m devastated. I want to refocus attention on people who deserve it for their accomplishments, allowing the Academy to focus on the tremendous work it does to foster filmmaking innovation and artistry. As a result, I am resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and I will accept any additional repercussions imposed by the Board. Change takes time, and I’m determined to putting in the effort necessary to ensure that violence never again triumphs over reason.”
The resignation was verified by the Academy shortly after Smith’s statement was released. The President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, David Rubin, also published a statement on Friday afternoon, saying:
“Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been received and accepted. In advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18, we will continue to move through with our disciplinary processes against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct.”
This decision comes only days after the Academy stated that disciplinary procedures had begun and that a decision on whether to suspend or expel Smith would be made in April. Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein are among those who have faced expulsion from the Academy in the past.
“I believe this is a question of optics from his standpoint,” said Eric Kohn, Executive Editor of Indiewire. “He’s doing the ‘quote-unquote’ right thing, and people will start to perceive him in a more favorable light as a result.”
Kohn further stated that in order for Smith to truly reclaim his reputation, he will need to demonstrate genuine repentance – not only to his fans, but also to the entertainment industry.
Smith apologized publicly to Rock on Monday afternoon, saying his actions were “out of line.”
As a result of the confrontation, several investigations have been opened, with the Los Angeles Police Department even revealing that detectives were preparing to arrest Smith backstage, though Rock has denied pressing charges.
It was unclear if Smith would be permitted to keep his Best Actor Oscar, which he earned for his work in “King Richard” at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Following their expulsion, neither Polanski nor Weinstein’s Academy Awards were revoked.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to be a member of the Academy to be nominated for an Oscar.
In principle, the Academy owns the Oscar statuettes that they present to prize recipients, so they might pursue them, but Kohn believes that such a move would be unlikely.
Various versions claim that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony following the slap, but he refused; nevertheless, other sources claim that he was requested to stay rather than be dismissed.
Amy Schumer and Rob Reiner, as well as Kathy Griffin and Tiffani Haddish, have all expressed their displeasure with the 53-year-old actor’s acts.
The situation began when Chris Rock ascended the stage to deliver an award at the presentation on Sunday. He made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, implying that she would be the star of the sequel to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” and joking that he couldn’t wait to see it.
Smith stepped on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face before returning to his seat, initially appearing to laugh at the joke.
Will Smith was heard shouting “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—-ing mouth” multiple times before Rock could be heard adding, “Will Smith just smacked the s—t out of me.”
One of the Academy Awards event producers, Will Packer, sat down for an interview with Good Morning America, detailing the minutes after the confrontation when he was able to talk with Rock.
“‘I’m good, let’s just get this over with,’ he said. I’m leaving right now. ‘I can’t believe it happened,’ says the narrator “Packer recalled something.
Rock, 57, has yet to issue an official comment on the event, though he did speak briefly about it at a comedy show in Boston on Wednesday, saying, “I don’t have a whole lot of nonsense about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I’ve got a full show I wrote before… this weekend. And I’m still trying to figure out what happened.”