April 1 (UPI) — Will Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday after he slapped comedian Chris Rock during Sunday’s 94th annual Oscars.
Smith’s resignation comes after the academy said a formal review of the altercation was underway, with the organization saying Wednesday that it had “initiated disciplinary proceedings” that may result in suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions under its bylaws and standards of conduct.
The 53-year-old Smith said in a statement that he will accept any further consequences for the incident.
“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” Smith said. “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.”
While presenting during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, Rock made a joke at the expense of Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, an incurable autoimmune disorder that causes bald spots and hair loss.
Shortly later, Will Smith walked onto the stage, slapped Rock across the face with his right hand and returned to his seat, where he twice yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth.”
Later in the awards show, Smith accepted the best actor award for his role in “King Richard”. In his teary acceptance speech, he apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees, but never directly addressed Rock.
On Monday, Smith offered a public apology to Rock on Instagram. Rock, who declined to press charges, has yet to directly address Smith regarding the incident.
“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” Smith concluded in his statement Friday.