After being nominated for two Academy Awards in the past, Will Smith won his first ever Oscar for “Best Actor In A Leading Role” for his performance in King Richard, alongside Black Women In Hollywood honoree Aunjanue Ellis.

Smith gave a stirring speech, noting the similarities between himself and Richard Williams, the star of the Williams family biopic for which he won the “Best Actor” award.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” the Philadelphia-born actor said. “In this time in my life. In this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis who is one of the most strongest and most delicate people I ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses that played Venus and Serena.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – March 27, 2022. Will Smith with King Richard co-star Aunjanue Ellis during the show at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022. (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” he continued. “I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse. You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta have people be able to talk about you and smile like its okay.”

Smith was visibly emotional during his acceptance speech after an on-stage altercation with comedian Chris Rock earlier in the night following a joke made about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

“I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story,” Smith said. “I want to be an ambassador for that kind of care and concern. I want to apologize to the academy and my fellow nominees. I’m not crying about winning an award. It’s about being able to shine a light.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

“Art Imitates life, ” he continued before cracking a joke. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. “Love will make you do crazy things. A lot of this moment is crazy for me.”

As he concluded his speech, Smith added, “Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. I thank you on behalf of Richard and Oracene and the entire Williams family. I hope the academy invites me back.”

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