Will Smith will not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs for the next 10 years in the wake of his conduct at the 94th annual Oscars ceremony on March 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced on Friday (April 8).
That means Smith will not be allowed to present the award to next year’s best actress winner, a time-honored tradition at the Oscars.
Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson released an “open letter to our Academy family” Friday, which reads in full:
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.
“Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.
“We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.
“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
The Academy’s board of governors met by Zoom at 9 a.m. PT to resolve the messy matter, after Academy president Rubin called for the board to move up the initially announced April 18 date of their meeting. “It is in the best interest of all involved for this to be handled in a timely fashion,” he wrote in a letter to board members.
In one of the strangest episodes in Oscars history, Smith rose from his seat and slapped presenter Chris Rock following a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. (Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss, though it’s unclear if Rock was aware of her condition.) After returning to his seat, Smith twice yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—in’ mouth.”
Compounding the strangeness, Smith received a standing ovation when he subsequently won best actor. And he was allowed to give a nearly six-minute acceptance speech.
Smith’s Oscar win was virtually a foregone conclusion after he had previously won just about every best actor award in the walk-up to the Oscars. It was his third best actor Oscar nomination and he was widely seen as succeeding admirably in a career-capping role – that of Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams.
On Friday, April 1, just five days after he received the biggest accolade in his profession, Smith resigned from the Academy. His resignation removed suspension and expulsion from the list of possible actions the Academy could take.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith said in a statement. “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,” Smith said in the statement. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. 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.”
“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” the Academy responded in a statement. “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.”