Will Smith, an American actor, received the Best Actor award at the 94th Academy Awards, which took place on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles – after slapping ace comedian Chris Rock, over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. ayokinews.com reports
Smith earned the award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard, a biopic about Williams’ influence in the sisters’ phenomenal success. Smith acts with Aunjanue Ellis as his wife Brandy, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as Venus and Serena Williams, and Jon Bernthal as tennis coach Rick Macci in the film which was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. The project’s executive producers were Venus and Serena Williams.
Smith became the event’s centre of attention after jumping on stage and slapping hard Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Smith, an act which appeared planned at first.
The actor later went back to his seat and shouted, “keep my wife’s name off your f*****g mouth”, referring to Chris Rock.
Commenting about the incident, Smith said: “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.
“Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses that played Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay.”