Will Smith resigns from film academy over Chris Rock slap

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LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — Will Smith resigned Friday from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, saying that he is “heartbroken” after slapping Chris Rock on Oscars night.

In a statement sent to NewsNation through the actor’s publicist Friday, Smith said he will “fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”

Film academy president David Rubin confirmed to NewsNation that Smith’s resignation was accepted.

“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” Rubin said.

At the Oscars ceremony last Sunday, Smith strode up to the stage after Rock made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife, then smacked Rock across the face.

Less than an hour later, Smith gave a tearful speech on stage as he accepted the best actor award for his role in “King Richard.”

“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,” his statement said. “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.

The resignation came two days after the academy’s leadership board met to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct.

“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” Smith concluded in the statement.

Rock declined to file charges when asked by police. He has only briefly addressed the attack publicly, saying at one comedy concert in Boston this week that he was still “kind of processing what happened.”

Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, made a reference to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane” in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. It was unclear whether Rock was aware that Jada Pinkett Smith has a condition that causes hair loss.

After Smith’s attack, he returned to his seat and angrily twice shouted at Rock to “get my wife’s name out your (expletive) mouth.” When Smith took the stage again less than hour later to accept his Oscar, he tearfully apologized to the academy but notably omitted any mention of Rock.

The fallout was immediate and intense. Smith had supporters coming to his wife’s defense, but he was widely condemned for responding with violence and for marring both his long-sought Oscar victory and overshadowing the night’s other winners.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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