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In one of the most shocking moments in recent award show history, Will Smith took to the Oscars stage and hit comedian and presenter Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith: "Jada, I love you; G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," Rock joked. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia. In the moments following, Will Smith, Jada's husband, walked up to Rock and hit him. "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth," Smith shouted once he was back in his seat.
Here's the full clip:
Chris Rock, for his part, reacted with, "Oh, wow"—and then the feed cut out for U.S. viewers.
Immediately, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" began trending on Twitter, with some viewers wondering if the act was a skit. Though the feed was quickly restored, with Questlove winning the award for Best Documentary Feature and giving a touching speech, the moment between Smith and Rock was all anyone could talk about. (Asked about the moment in the Oscars press room, Questlove said, "I’m not talking about that. This is about the Harlem cultural festival," per Variety.)
and now no one can pay attention to this beautiful speech by quest because we're all still trying to understand what just happenedMarch 28, 2022
bruh what just happened with will smith and chris rock on stage… tell me that was scripted 😭😭😭March 28, 2022
The next presenter was Diddy, who addressed the incident by saying: "Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this like family. Right now we’re moving on with love. Everybody make some noise.”
During the commercial break, Denzel Washington came to speak to both Smith and Rock:
Minutes later, Will won Best Actor for his role in in King Richard and addressed the incident in his monologue. "I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people," Will said. "Now, I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse, you got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you, and you got to smile and pretend like that's okay.... Denzel [Washington] said to me a few minutes ago: 'Be careful; at your highest moment, that's when the devil comes for you.'"
He went on: "I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family...I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love, and care, and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees... Art imitates life—I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things."
In a statement on Monday, the Academy said: "The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Pinkett Smith went public with her diagnosis of alopecia, an autoimmune condition, in 2018. In December, she posted a video about her experience with it: "Now at this point, I can only laugh,” she shared, showing the viewer a bald patch along the center of her scalp. “Y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia and just all of a sudden one day, look at this line right here. Look at that.”
Pinkett Smith had previously opened up about the condition on Red Table Talk: "It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, oh my God, am I going bald?”
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