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‘Summer of Soul’ producer Joseph Patel says Will Smith “robbed” Oscar moment

He also slammed Chris Rock for calling the film's producers "four white guys"

By Joe Goggins

Questlove with his Oscar on 'The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon', March 28, 2022
Questlove with his Oscar on 'The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon' on Monday night (March 28). (Photo: YouTube)

The producer of ‘Summer of Soul’ has slammed Will Smith for taking the shine off of Questlove’s winning moment.

The Roots drummer turned first-time director followed up his BAFTA win for Best Documentary with an Oscar on Sunday night (March 27). That being the category that Chris Rock was presenting, though, meant that the comedian handed over the statuette just moments after being slapped by Will Smith, and Joseph Patel feels that “robbed” Questlove of his moment in the spotlight.

In a since-deleted thread posted to Twitter on Wednesday night (March 30), Patel shared his thoughts on Smith’s outburst, which saw him respond to Rock’s joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head – she has alopecia – by striking Rock on stage, and then angrily rebuking him from his front-row seat. “I think what Will did was selfish,” Patel began.

“It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs. And it robbed Summer of Soul’ and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film. I feel bad for Ahmir [Thompson, aka Questlove].”

“I feel bad for my fellow producers,” continued Patel. “I feel bad for our whole team. I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us. We were in shock walking to the stage -not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.”

Questlove was able to give his acceptance speech in full from the stage at the Dolby Theater after receiving the award from a visibly rattled Rock, but the thoughts of both the in-person audience and those watching at home were clearly elsewhere. Patel said that the director “handled the moment with grace”, and that his speech was “from the heart. It was beautiful to see. I’m so deeply moved by how much he has grown in the last few years.”

Rock did not escape criticism either, with Patel calling him “an absolute f*****g d**k”. He took objection to a joke Rock made as he announced ‘Summer of Soul’s win, that the award was going to Questlove and “four white guys”; Patel is South Asian. “The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award,” he explained. “I’m a big boy – I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes. But not in that moment. What a shitty, disrespectful thing to do.”

Patel ended his thread on a positive note, relating that he was “living in a place of absolute joy” thanks to the win. “I never need a statue to tell me how nice I am – but it sure helps. And what both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us. FIN.” Patel’s comments follow stinging criticism of the Oscars audience by Jim Carrey for giving Smith a standing ovation when he won Best Actor for ‘King Richard’, mere minutes after slapping Rock.