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Will Smith Resigns from Academy Following Oscars Incident, Will ‘Accept Any Further Consequences’

"Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason," the actor wrote in a statement.

Willow Smith at the 94th Academy Awards held at Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center on March 27th, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Will Smith

Gilbert Flores for Variety

Update April 1, 8 pm: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President David Rubin has released a statement on Smith’s resignation. “We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” the statement read.

April 1: Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his onstage altercation with Chris Rock at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. The move comes after Smith won his first Oscar for his performance in “King Richard.”

The actor released a statement late Friday that read:

“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. 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. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

During the 94th Academy Awards, Smith made international news when he walked onto the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock for a joke Rock told about Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock joked that the actress, who has alopecia, would soon be appearing in “G.I. Jane 2.” After hitting the comedian, Smith screamed at him to “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

While the slap attracted instant outrage, the timing could not have been more awkward, as Smith’s win for Best Actor was widely seen as an inevitability. Fans (and Academy members) were left to watch as Smith returned to his seat, knowing he would likely be giving an acceptance speech soon. When he did win, Smith began his five minute acceptance speech by saying “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family.” He continued to apologize to the Academy in his speech, and expressed hope that he would be invited back to the Oscars.

Smith later issued an apology to Rock, writing, “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”

Oscars producer Will Packer went on the record during “Good Morning America” on Friday, addressing the incident for the first time. He claimed that while LAPD was standing by to arrest Smith, Rock advocated on behalf of the Best Actor winner, and declined to press charges. Still, some sources are refuting this narrative, and say that the Academy never asked Rock if he wanted Smith to be removed from the ceremony.

Immediately following the show, the Academy released a statement condemning the slap while still keeping the focus on the evening’s festivities.

“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the statement read. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.” Many were quick to criticize the lukewarm message, but the Academy wasted little time before taking stronger action.

On Monday, the Academy launched a formal review of Smith’s actions, releasing a second statement that condemned the slap more harshly.

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,”  the statement said. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”

The Academy additionally announced that a formal review was underway that would “take a few weeks” to come to a conclusion about Smith’s standing in the Academy. “As outlined in our bylaws, the Academy’s Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith,” the letter signed by Academy President David Rubin stated. “We will continue to update you on any developments, but we also ask that you respect your Board, Academy staff and the process as this unfolds so it can work in the considered way it was intended and mandated. Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy.”

While expulsion is now off the table following Smith’s resignation, it remains to be seen whether the Academy will impose more disciplinary measures.

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