Will Smith, the Oscar-winning American actor who recently courted controversy by slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Academy Awards, has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
This means Smith cannot vote for the Oscars. However, he is still eligible to be nominated for awards, attend future ceremonies, and retain the award he has won.
On Sunday’s ceremony, Smith earned his first-ever Oscar for his lead performance in the film King Richard, shortly after he walked on stage and struck Rock across the face for making a joke aimed at his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The joke was about the latter being in GI Jane 2 because of her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has been diagnosed with alopecia areata, a condition that causes a sudden loss of hair.
In the aftermath of the incident, that also involved Smith yelling and cursing at Rock to not talk about his wife, the Academy’s Board of Governors held a review meeting to discuss the next steps, following which disciplinary action was initiated against Smith.
The exact nature of the disciplinary action – suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions – is to be determined at the next board meeting on April 18.
However, Smith has now resigned ahead of this, seemingly of his own accord. In a statement accessed by The Hollywood Reporter, the actor said that he was “heartbroken” and accepted responsibility for all the consequences of his behaviour during the ceremony.
“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,” Smith said.
He further added, “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.”
As per THR, the Academy has “received and accepted” Smith’s resignation. However, it also said that the disciplinary proceedings will continue against the actor.
Smith too mentioned in his statement that he has responded to the Academy’s notice and “will fully accept any and all consequences.”