Will Smith has formally withdrawn his membership from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences following the tense physical exchange he had with Chris Rock during the live broadcast of the 94th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday.
The Academy has already launched a formal investigation into the incident that found Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock after he made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald haircut, which she has publicly spoken about as being a choice made to an ongoing medical issue that has prompted intense hair loss. After the altercation, Smith repeatedly told Rock “keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth” as the stunned host attempted to move on and present the Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category.
Smith apologized to The Academy during his acceptance speech for the Best Actor Oscar, and made a formal apology to Chris Rock and again The Academy via Instagram on Monday evening. It has also been reported by ABC News that Smith apologized directly to Academy heads during a 6-minute Zoom call on Monday morning after the awards ceremony.
Now, after nearly a full week of public debate and discourse on the topic, Smith has chosen to voluntarily remove himself from the organization altogether.
“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,” Smith said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “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,” he continued. “So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”
Smith concluded his statement with an assertion that he is doing the self-work necessary to curb his temper and make sure he doesn’t feel the need to resort to such violent measures again in the future.
“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” he concluded.
Smith’s voluntary exit from The Academy will mean that he can no longer vote to determine the nominees and winners of Academy Awards. However, with no further adjustment to standing rules, he can still be nominated for future Oscars, attend future ceremonies, and keep the Oscar statue he won for his leading performance in King Richard.
At this time, it is unclear if The Academy will seek further action regarding the incident. Earlier today, Oscars broadcast producer Will Packer spoke with Good Morning America regarding the real-time attempts at disciplinary actions that were taken in the moments after the slap occurred. Despite police offering to arrest and remove Smith from the premises, and possible discussion among Academy higher-ups about ejecting the actor from the auditorium, Packer says that Rock insisted that no further action take place in the moment.
Still, Packer says he was extremely caught off guard by the gravity and shock of what occurred in the middle of the show he was producing.
“I’ve never felt so immediately devastated like I did in that moment,” Packer shared.