Will Smith resigns from Academy after backlash over slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

He called his actions 'shocking, painful, and inexcusable'

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Actor Will Smith on Friday resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Variety reported, following the backlash for slapping comedian Chris Rock at the live broadcast Oscars ceremony this week.

“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate,” he wrote.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”

Chris Rock made a joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has suffered hair loss by alopecia, referring to Demi Moore's crewcut in GI Jane.

Pinkett Smith seemed to not be amused as her husband first chuckled, before he walked up to the stage and slapped Rock's face after the joke was made. The incident created a fervour on social media and in entertainment circles.

The academy said on Wednesday that it started disciplinary proceedings into the event.

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy,” Smith wrote. “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Attendees at the Dolby Theatre watched open-mouthed after the incident.

“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,” said Smith.

“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.”

Smith was facing expulsion or suspension as possible punishment by the academy before his resignation.

Film academy president David Rubin said Smith’s resignation was accepted.

“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” he said

News agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 02, 2022, 6:42 AM