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Will Smith Resigns From the Academy Before Facing Formal Punishment for Slapping Chris Rock


Will Smith
Image via ABC

Will Smith isn’t waiting for the Academy to announce what disciplinary measures it will take in response to his attack on Chris Rock at the Oscars, as the disgraced star of King Richard has resigned from the embattled organization.

Here is Smith’s full statement:

I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. 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. 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. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.

This feels like a “you can’t fire me because I quit” kind of statement from Smith, but at least it finds him taking responsibility and promising to do the work to change, as there’s clearly a fire burning within him that he needs to address.

Chris Rock
Image via ABC

Naturally, Smith waited until late Friday afternoon to make the announcement, which comes two days after the Academy’s Board of Governors initiated what it called “disciplinary proceedings” against the newly-crowned Oscar winner, who attended Vanity Fair‘s annual bash and partied the night away without a care in the world before apologizing 20 hours later. Suffice to say, it was not a good look for Smith, who probably should’ve just gone home after embarrassing himself and the Academy on a global stage.

Academy governors were scheduled to meet on April 18 to decide Smith’s fate, as they had to give him 15 days to respond in writing in accordance with California law, and they will apparently still hold that disciplinary meeting even though there doesn’t seem to be much point anymore. Smith was reportedly likely to be handed a long suspension (meaning no voting privileges) and disinvited from presenting the Best Actress award at next year’s Oscars.

Now that Smith has exited stage left, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson are left to point fingers at Oscars producer Will Packer as the three of them bicker in the media about who knew what when, and why certain actions were or were not taken. The bottom line is that even though the show’s ratings spiked and the Oscars are all anyone can talk about five days later, the ceremony was still a disaster, and a change of leadership is sorely needed at the Academy along with more than a little transparency.

Smith is hardly the first to resign from the Academy of late, as Oscar winner Tom Fleischman and fellow sound mixer Peter Kurland also recently resigned from the Academy, albeit in protest of the organization’s decision to give out eight Oscars during the hour-long pre-show before the live telecast — which went 43 minutes long anyway — not because they smacked a presenter.

Once more, for those who somehow missed it and others who just want to watch it again in all its stupidity, here is… The Slap:

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