Chris Rock may not be ready to talk, but Will Smith is. Five months after the Emancipation actor slapped Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards, Smith released a video to social media apologizing to Rock, his family, The Academy and others.
“It’s been a minute… Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work…” the beginning message in the nearly six-minute clip reads. “You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
“Why didn’t you apologize to Chris Rock in your acceptance speech?” Smith goes on to ask. “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he will reach out.”
He adds, “I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris’ mother. I saw an interview that Chris’ mother did and that was one of the things about that moment I didn’t realize, and I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment.”
Smith went on to apologize to Chris’ brother and fellow actor-comedian Tony Rock, who starred in early-2000s UPN comedy All of Us that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith executive-produced.
“I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the complexities and nuances of what happened in that moment,” Smith continued. “I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect of insults.”
Smith also confirmed that the slap wasn’t initiated by Pinkett Smith. The King Richard star also acknowledged his fellow Oscar nominees and Questlove, who won Best Documentary Feature Film for Summer of Soul, the award that Chris Rock presented.
Smith ended his message with a profound statement that echoes his 2021 autobiography Will. “Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down,” he said. “It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to peoples image and impression of me. The work I’m trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s***.”
The actor acknowledged that the incident was “confusing” and “shocking” to witnesses, but that he is “deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world.”
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