Academy ‘condemns’ Will Smith’s Oscar slap, launches official probe

Will Smith (L) and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive for the 94th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

March 28 (UPI) — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday issued a condemnation of an onstage incident in which actor Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony.

The group also announced it has launched an official inquiry into the incident, according to a statement distributed to media outlets.

Smith walked onto the stage during Sunday’s 94th annual Academy Awards and slapped Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. The incident occurred as Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary.

Will Smith then returned to his seat and told Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth. Will Smith later won Best Actor for his role in “King Richard.”

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the organization said. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.”

The statement referred to a code of conduct adopted in 2017 in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal under which the body’s Board of Governors may suspend or expel members found to have “compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions.”

The Academy had called an emergency meeting early Monday to discuss the Smith incident, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The move came after the motion picture body issued a brief Twitter statement on Sunday night saying, “The Academy does not condone violence of any form.”

“I want to apologize to the Academy,” Smith said during his acceptance speech. “I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. Love will make you do crazy things.”

In a statement emailed to UPI, the Los Angeles Police Department said it was aware of the incident and that Rock has declined to press charges.


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