(The Hill) – Will Smith must return his Oscar, according to veteran actor Harry J. Lennix, following Smith’s onstage brawl with comedian Chris Rock late last month.
In a Saturday Variety piece, Lennix, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, wrote that Smith needs to understand that his actions have repercussions, and that returning his prize is the best option for him.
“Smith should return his golden trophy to the Academy by express mail and publicly proclaim, ‘Out of respect for the 94 years of distinction bestowed upon this medal, I do not in good conscience feel worthy of being its keeper,’ ” In his column, Lennix stated.
“Of the many unsettling things said in the aftermath of the slap, the most galling to me was his reference to a higher power during his surreal acceptance speech after he won for his work in ‘King Richard’ less than an hour after his act of violence – and the Academy’s equally shocking decision not to eject Smith from the ceremony,” Lennix continued.
After Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith slapped Rock. Later that evening, Smith was awarded the Academy Award for Best Male Actor for his depiction of Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, in the biopic “King Richard.”
Will Smith has been barred from attending the Academy Awards for the next ten years.
The incident also took away the “prestige” of the award ceremony, according to Lennix, who noted that other attendees gave Smith a standing ovation after he won the Oscar.
“The blemish on the Motion Picture Academy is irreversible. Smith must voluntarily return his award for best actor as the only hope for a reasonable grace “In his column, Lennix came to a conclusion.