Nearly two weeks after “The Slap,” actor Will Smith is officially facing consequences for striking Chris Rock on the Oscars stage. After the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences met Friday morning to discuss the situation, the Academy released an official statement announcing that Smith is receiving a 10-year ban from Academy events. This also comes after the Board recently accepted Smith‘s resignation from the Academy, a move which left sanctions as one of the few remaining disciplinary actions.
It’s a resolution of sorts to an incident that made instant international news and has since dominated entertainment conversation. It all kicked off after Rock made a joke on stage about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s hair while presenting an award. She’s publicly spoken about her struggle with alopecia and upon hearing the joke, Will stormed on stage and slapped Rock. Afterward, he yelled at Rock from his seat, outraged at the remarks about his wife. The backlash from voices around the industry was immediate with some even calling for Smith to be stripped of his Oscar, but there’s no precedent nor legal authority for the Academy to take such actions. Since the incident, Smith has also issued multiple apologies to Rock and to the Academy.
Originally, the Academy wasn’t supposed to meet until April 18 to make a decision on how to proceed with Smith, but his resignation prompted swifter action. Although he’s banned from attending, the move doesn’t disqualify Smith from nominations and wins during his ban.
The letter from Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson also addressed the muddled response from the Oscars about the incident. Following Smith‘s assault on Rock, he was allowed to remain in the theater and even accept his award for Best Actor for King Richard. Conflicting reports from sources surrounding the show were unclear whether he was even asked to leave, which only further fueled confusion and anger from throughout the industry as to what was happening behind the scenes. With Smith still in the building and even allowed to give a long, uninterrupted speech, it clouded the show in awkwardness for all who ascended the stage and ultimately took away from what was otherwise a special night for so many people.
To close out the letter, the Academy thanked Rock and all the other presenters and hosts for remaining professional and collected despite the distraction. With this, Slap Gate seems to be over with the Academy‘s decision final.
Here is the full official statement from Academy President Rubin and CEO Hudson regarding the decision:
Open Letter to Our Academy Family
The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.
During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.
Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board has decided, 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.
We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.
This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.