On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences met virtually to discuss the repercussions for Will Smith’s actions at the 94th Annual Academy Awards two weeks ago, ultimately determining that “for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.” (He will, however, still be eligible to be nominated for awards and win.) The Oscars board of governors acknowledged that they failed to handle the event appropriately on the night itself, saying in a statement, “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry.”
Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on April 1 after its members initiated disciplinary proceedings against the actor for slapping and verbally berating presenter Chris Rock on March 27. “I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith said in a statement accompanying the news that he would no longer be a member of the Oscars’ governing body.
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Many of Smith’s fellow celebrities spoke out about his actions at the Academy Awards, where—after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss—Smith came onstage and struck Rock. Smith then said: “Keep my wife’s name out of your mouth.”
As if that weren’t enough drama for one night, Smith was called to the stage shortly after to accept a best-actor Oscar for his role in King Richard, and his tearful speech was, at once, a passionate defense of his love for his family and an apology to the Academy and his fellow nominees. Read part of Smith’s acceptance speech below:
Oh, man. Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], the two actresses that played Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s okay. Richard Williams, and what I loved…Thank you, Dee —Denzel said a few minutes ago, “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.” It’s like, I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena. I just spit, I hope they didn’t see that on TV. I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. That’s what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I’m not—I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things. To my mother—a lot of this moment is really complicated for me. To my mother, she didn’t want to come out, she had her knitting friends, she has a knitting crew, she’s in Philly watching. Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife…I’m taking up too much time. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. And thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. Thank you. I hope the Academy invites me back. Thank you.
Originally published in Vogue.com