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Will Smith resigns from Academy following ‘inexcusable’ slap

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy,” Smith wrote. “I am heartbroken.”

By Nancy Dillon & Tomás Mier

Will Smith accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "King Richard" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Will Smith accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "King Richard" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles (Picture: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Will Smith is resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after slapping Chris Rock during last Sunday’s Academy Awards. On Friday, the King Richard Oscar winner shared a lengthy statement addressing his actions at the ceremony, noting he accepts the “all consequences for my conduct.”

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” he wrote. “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,” Smith continued, added saying he wanted the focus to return to the work of the Academy and the other creatives who deserve the attention.

“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate,” he wrote. “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” said David Rubin, the Academy’s president, in a statement. “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 resignation means Smith won’t be allowed to vote in future Oscar races but he could still receive a nomination since membership is not a prerequisite.

Following the last Sunday’s Oscars ‚ where Smith stormed the stage and slapped Rock following an insensitive joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut hairstyle, the Academy issued a statement saying that Smith violated the Oscars’ code of conduct due to his “abusive or threatening behavior” at the event.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the statement read.

Smith apologized to the Academy and the show’s audience during his acceptance speech Sunday but notably left Rock out. He issued a public apology to Rock the next day, saying he was “out of line” and “wrong.” Rock, meanwhile, has yet to address the incident publicly — save for brief quips during two sold-out shows in Boston this week. Representatives for the comedian did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

Several Academy members have been stripped of their membership in the past. They include convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and more obscure actor Carmine Caridi, who was given the boot because he shared movie screeners against Academy policy.