After the 2022 Oscars incident in which Will Smith hit Chris Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will was recognized by the African American Film Critics Association about a year later.
Going straight from the “red table” to the “awards show” stage.
Will Smith accepted the Beacon Award for his performance in Emancipation at the African American Film Critics Association Awards on March 1. His last appearance at an awards event was in 2022 when he hit Chris Rock in the face for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. While receiving the award, Will remarked on the emotional toll of playing Peter, a slave in the 1860s, in the Apple TV+ video.
“Emancipation” was “the most personally challenging film of my whole career,” the 54-year-old said. “It’s challenging for a modern mind to imagine life in that era. Trying to conceptualize such extreme cruelty is nearly impossible.”
Though he has avoided the spotlight since the Oscars, the King Richard actor was there at the film’s premiere with his wife Jada (married 1997); his three children, Trey (age 30), Jaden (age 24), and Willow (year 22), were also in attendance.
Notwithstanding the tragedy that befell the Smiths in March of 2022, they remained a close-knit family. Chris made a joke about Jada, who was in attendance, and discussed her alopecia when presenting an award during the presentation. Will walked up onto the platform, slapped Chris, and said, “Get my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth” when Chris made the statement.
The actor from Independence Day, who won Best Actor later that night, was banned for life from attending any Academy functions. Both Jada and Will have thought back on that night after the event.
“Violence in all its forms is corrosive and harmful,” Will posted on Instagram the day after the Oscars. “Joke making at my expense is run for the course, but when someone made fun of Jada’s illness, I lost it.”
Also, he said “Please accept this as my formal apology to you, Chris. It was inappropriate of me, and I was wrong. I feel ashamed because my behavior does not reflect the kind of guy I strive to be.”
Chris talked about the slap at his Boston comedy gig, adding, “The events are still sinking in for me. Yeah, I guess I’ll get to that b.s. eventually. In addition, it will be both serious and humorous.”
Jada, for her part, is interested in seeing if Will and Chris are capable of mending their relationship.
In a June episode of Red Table Talk, Jada expressed her optimism that the rift between the two men may be healed via conversation and that they could find a way to reconcile. “Our mutual dependence is greater now than ever before in light of the current global crisis. Will and I will keep doing what we’ve been doing for the past 28 years, which is trying to figure out how to live.”