Will Smith yells at comedian Chris Rock (not pictured) from his front-row seat at the 2022 Oscars after taking the stage and slapping him for a joke about Smith's wife during the March 27 ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Will Smith yells at comedian Chris Rock (not pictured) from his front-row seat at the 2022 Oscars after taking the stage and slapping him for a joke about Smith's wife during the March 27 ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

With news that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially launched a formal review of Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock during the Oscars on Sunday, the actor issued an apology to the famed comedian for slapping him on live television.

As those in charge of the awards show asserted they would “explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law,” Smith on Monday issued a mea culpa in an Instagram message, striking a repentant tone for his role in the incident, which began with some onstage ribbing from Rock at his wife’s expense:

Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.

I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my ‘King Richard’ Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

I am a work in progress.

Sincerely,

Will

Rock drew Smith’s ire with an onstage joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaven head, which she attributes to her public battle with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Smith, who initially laughed at the joke though his wife appeared bothered by the jab, jumped onstage seconds later, approached Rock and slapped him in the face before returning to his front-row seat.

As a visibly stunned Rock attempted to explain himself, Smith twice yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth.”

Smith, who later won the Best Actor Oscar for his starring role in “King Richard,” tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees during his acceptance speech, but notably not to Rock.

Rock has yet to comment on the incident. It isn’t known if he was aware of Pinkett Smith’s medical condition before making the joke.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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