Will Smith Resigns From the Academy Over Chris Rock Incident
Later this month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors is set to meet to vote on disciplinary actions for Will Smith over his behavior at last weekend’s Oscars. Slapping Chris Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair wasn’t just shocking and inappropriate, it may have also violated the Academy’s Standards of Conduct. On the basis of that upcoming vote, the group could have moved to suspend or even expel Smith from the Academy.
Before they could, Smith has decided to resign from the group. In a statement, Smith announced that his behavior at the Oscars was “shocking, painful, and inexcusable” and claimed he wanted to “put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements” following a week in which Smith’s actions — and the Academy’s inaction — along with an ongoing debate about whether Smith was asked to leave and refused, has overshadowed pretty much every story coming out of the Oscars, including the surprising wins by smaller films like Coda.
While Rock did briefly address the incident on the opening night of his new standup tour, he’s largely avoided commenting in detail on the slap. According to Will Packer, the producer of the Oscars telecast, he went to Rock to see if he wanted Smith removed from the show, and Rock said no. Packer claimed on Good Morning America that Rock was also “dismissive” of the idea of arresting Will Smith over the incident, saying he was “fine.”
After conferring with Rock, Packer told GMA he “went to the Academy leadership that was on site and I said: ‘Chris Rock doesn't want [to kick Smith out] ... Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse.’”
Even with Smith’s resignation, the saga is not over. The Academy board will still vote about the incident later this month, and could determine more penalties are warranted. (In his statement, Smith also said he would “accept any further consequences” they choose to impose.)
Smith’s full statement about his resignation from the group is below (via Deadline):
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.