Will Smith Resigns From Motion Picture Academy

Less than a week after slapping Chris Rock on stage during the live broadcast of the Oscars, Will Smith announced that he’s resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Smith issued a statement Friday evening extending his earlier apologies and explaining his resignation from the film industry’s biggest trade group.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” the statement read.

“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.”

Resigning from the Academy means Smith loses certain privileges like the ability to attend some movie screenings and his vote in the Oscars tally in the future. It doesn’t bar him from being nominated or winning another Oscar.

His renunciation caps a week of stunning backlash and controversy that followed what should have been the apex of Smith’s three-decade career as an actor as well as a historic night for the awards ceremony itself. After turning in iconic performances in movies such as the biopic Ali along with well-receive comedic, dramatic and action roles, Smith won the best actor statue for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, in 2021’s King Richard.

But just minutes before his honor was announced, Smith left his seat in the audience, walked onstage and meted out an open-handed slap to Rock, himself one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood of the past generation. Rock, who presented the award for best original documentary to Questlove’s “Summer of Soul,”joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s haircut, that the Smith’s apparently took personally. Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, has alopecia, which causes hair loss.

Smith apologized to the Academy after accepting his award but not to Rock personally; that moment came in a statement days later.

This year’s Oscars were supposed to be historic for more meritorious reasons, especially where Black Hollywood is concerned. Two Black women, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, along with Amy Schumer, hosted the event, the first time since 2019 the ceremony had live hosts. Will Packer became the first Black producer of the telecast, and Questlove’s documentary win was for his directorial debut.

Nathan Odige