By Abb Jones
The Reelness

In a pre-emptive move, Oscar-winning actor Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, rather than wait for the organization to suspend or even expel him over his on-stage assault of comedian Chris Rock during last Sunday’s live telecast.

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in the face during Sunday’s live Oscar telecast.

In a statement released Friday, the actor said he will accept any and all consequences for his conduct, calling his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable.” The assault occurred after Rock, onstage to present the award for Best Documentary, cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, likening her shaved head to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film G.I. Jane. Smith rush the stage, slapped Rock, then hurled expletives towards him after returning to his seat. The audience and viewers were mortified.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable. 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…  I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.” -Will Smith, on his resignation from the Academy

Will Smith giving his Best Actor acceptance speech for King Richard.

The Academy says it asked Smith to leave the event following the slap but that he refused. Oscars producer Will Packer told Good Morning America earlier Friday that he had told Smith to stay at Chris Rock’s urging – something Rock’s spokespeople deny. Smith apologized to nominees, the audience and viewers – but not Chris Rock – 45 minutes later when he received the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard.

Smith’s resignation means he can no longer vote for the Oscars but unless the Academy takes further action when it meets on April 18th, Smith can still be nominated for future Academy Awards and keep the Best Actor Oscar that he won.


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