Will Smith, the winner of the Best Actor award, slapped Chris Rock on stage for joking about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock took a jibe at her shaved head, which is the result of alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss.
Moments later, Smith won the first Academy Award of his career for the movie King Richard, where he essayed the role of the father of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams.
After his behavior was condemned by The Academy, actor Will Smith issued a public apology to comedian Chris Rock. Smith said, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line, and I was wrong.”
In a statement shared on Instagram, Smith wrote, “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.”
He proceeded to apologize directly to Rock, acknowledging that he was “out of line.” He added that he was embarrassed and that his actions did not resemble the person he wanted to be. “There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” he wrote.
He also apologized to the Williams family, the King Richard Family, the Academy, the Oscar producers, attendees, and all those around the world who tuned into the show. He mentioned that he deeply regretted that his behavior had “stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey” for everyone. He concluded his apology with, “I am a work in progress.”
Before Smith shared his apology, the organization behind the Oscars put out a statement saying, “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.”