In the aftermath of the now-infamous Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars slap at last month’s 94th Academy Awards ceremony, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences met on Friday morning (April 8) to discuss how to best respond to Smith’s behavior during the live telecast.
The 54-people board, which includes the likes of actresses Rita Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg, in addition to directors Ava DuVernay and Steven Spielberg, explained in a statement that for 10 years beginning April 8, 2022, the King Richard actor “shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”
Describing Smith’s actions as “unacceptable and harmful behavior” the Academy admitted they were “unprepared” for “the unprecedented” incident and “did not adequately address the situation” at the time.
Apologizing to both viewers and guests of the ceremony, the Academy also extended a personal sorry to Chris Rock whom Smith slapped across the face on stage after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith that he deemed offensive.
“We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances,” read the statement.
Despite the decade-long punishment, Smith is allowed to keep the Oscar he won just moments following the altercation. Furthermore, he still remains eligible for future Oscar nominations and wins.
Within minutes of the announcement, Smith responded to the decision. “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” he expressed in a brief statement to Page Six.
Smith’s resignation from the Academy on April 1 deactivated his membership and means he can no longer vote for the Oscars, consequently, leaving the organization with few disciplinary options. At the time of the announcement, he released a statement in which he wrote, “I am heartbroken,” and described his behavior as “shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”
The Ali actor’s ban from the Academy is just the latest in the fallout he continues to face including reports that many of his upcoming projects including Bad Boys 4, which was in active development prior to the incident, have been paused or put on the backburner.
The court of public opinion has been particularly harsh with many of Smith’s industry peers criticizing his actions including fellow comedians and actors such as Steve Harvey and Jim Carrey. Still, he is not without his supporters. Actress Tiffany Haddish, who played alongside Pinkett-Smith in 2017’s Girls Trip called the incident “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen” because a Black man stood up for his wife.
Meanwhile, the ever-elusive Atlanta actor LaKeith Stanfield stayed neutral while speaking with Variety at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. “It was crazy,” he shared succinctly, concluding, “I don’t know, it was surreal.”