Will Smith Has Resigned From The Academy

By Nathan Kamal | 1 month ago

will smith

In yet another dramatic turn of events following the now notorious 94th Academy Awards ceremony, actor Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This is part of the continuing fallout from an incident in which the star of Independence Day walked on stage and struck comedian Chris Rock across the face. This was apparently in response to a joke had made at the expense of Smith’s spouse, Jada Pinkett-Smith (who was also present), comparing her to Demi Moore in the 1997 Ridley Scott film G.I. Jane. After the joke was presumably perceived by Will Smith to be mocking Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia (a widespread and common autoimmune disorder that results in thinning or lost hair), he struck Rock, then proceeded to shout at the comedian several times after returning to his seat. Approximately 30 minutes later, Will Smith was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the biopic film King Richard

Will Smith’s resignation from the Academy was a voluntary decision, accompanied by a statement that appeared in part to express a wish to no longer be the focus of the ceremony. Here is that statement in full:

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.

Following the incident, reports of the exact sequence of events have been confusing and in some cases, contradictory. While the Academy said in a statement that Will Smith had been asked to leave the ceremony after assaulting Chris Rock and had refused, other accounts stated that his PR representatives had been asked (instead of him directly) or that he had not been asked at all. Smith gave a short and tearful speech upon accepting his Oscar, in which he apologized to the Academy (though not Rock) and compared himself to Richard Williams in “defending his family.” Shortly after, Smith was seen celebrating his victory and dancing at the Oscars after-party. He has since apologized to Rock via social media, and various members of the Smith family have obliquely commented on the incident.

The Academy had already stated that disciplinary actions were proceeding against Will Smith. It can be assumed that Smith’s resignation from the Academy was a move to pre-emptively forestall that. Apparently, Smith might have faced a suspension of up to ten years from the Academy and it was already extremely unlikely that he would have been invited to present the Best Actor award to next year’s winner, as is tradition. To date, only five members of the Academy have been expelled, mostly for serious sex-related charges. Will Smith himself is only the third individual to resign from the Academy; interestingly, the other two resigned less than a month ago, citing changes to the Oscars broadcast excluding various awards. 

The consequences and effects of the 94th Academy Awards incident will doubtlessly continue to unfold, regardless of Will Smith’s resignation. While many have called for the Academy to rescind his award, there appears to be no mechanism in their bylaws that would allow for this. We will continue to update as more news emerges on the subject.