Movie Academy President Addresses Will Smith Oscar Slap: AMPAS Response “Inadequate”

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Janet Yang told assembled nominees at the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on Monday that the organization’s response to the Will Smith slap during last year’s Oscars was inadequate.

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Yang made the comments during opening remarks at the event, being held this afternoon at the Beverly Hilton.

“I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” she told the group. “What happened onstage was fully unacceptable and the response from our organization was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis you must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward.”

Smith walked onto the stage and struck presenter Chris Rock on live TV after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. He returned to his seat and stayed for the rest of the show, and later in the night won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in King Richard.

The Oscar telecast was on March 27. The Academy’s Board of Governors voted on April 8 to give Smith a 10-year ban from attending the Oscars — and had to move up that vote after Smith voluntarily resigned from the organization the week before.

“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,” then-AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said at the time of Smith’s “unacceptable and harmful behavior.”

They added, “We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”

Today’s luncheon drew the majority of this year’s Oscar nominees including Steven Spielberg, Roger Deakins, Jerry Bruckheimer, Tom Cruise, Michelle Williams, Sarah Polley, Rian Johnson, Mary Zophres, Diane Warren, Brandon Fraser, Hong Chau, Austin Butler and Paul Mescal.

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