Will Smith resigns from Academy, but consequences remain unclear

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Friday, actor Will Smith announced he was self-sanctioning after having slapped comedian Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards last week.

According to an article at The Hollywood Reporter, Smith revealed in a statement that he was resigning immediately from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization which only recently awarded the actor his first Oscar and the body whose leadership is currently deliberating on just how, or if, to punish Smith further for his action.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith’s statement reads. “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. 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.”

The Academy, through a statement from its president, David Rubin, accepted Smith’s resignation later in the day.

“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” Rubin’s statement reads. “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.”

The resignation, while significant, is not quite the sanction one might imagine. By stepping away, Smith has guaranteed that he will no longer be allowed to vote on future awards, and he has lost access to special early screenings of movies that are sent to Oscar voters.

Were the Academy, whose board of governors is currently working through a disciplinary proceeding, to deem this punishment sufficient, Smith could keep his Oscar, attend future Academy award shows, and be nominated for future honors.

“[I] will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate,” Smith said in his statement. “Change takes time, and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

In related news, actor Denzel Washington broke his silence on the Smith-Rock altercation during an appearance with Pastor T.D. Jakes.

Washington was one of several celebrities seen consoling Smith following the slap.

During an onstage discussion at a Jakes leadership conference, which was streamed by celebrity news site The Wrap, Washington did not go into specifics about what he told Smith but revealed that the two prayed.

“I don’t wanna say what we talked about, but there but for the grace of God go any of us,” Washington said. “Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I saw it, the way I see it.”