The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas) has admitted the Oscars’ response to Will Smith’s Chris Rock slap was “inadequate” and says lessons must be learned.
Janet Yang admitted the incident, when the ‘King Richard’ star hit the comedian after he joked about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith at last year’s Academy Awards, was “fully unacceptable”, and says the Academy should act “swiftly, compassionately and decisively” in times of “crisis”.
Speaking at the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon – where guests included Tom Cruise, Cate Blanchett, Steven Spielberg and Angela Bassett – she said: “I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars.
“What happened onstage was fully unacceptable and the response from our organisation was inadequate.
“We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis you must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry.
“You should and can expect no less from us, going forward.”
Smith resigned from the Academy on April 1, just days after the ceremony, admitting he had “betrayed” their trust, but insisted he was “heartbroken”.
But it wasn’t until April 8 when the Academy banned the actor from the Oscars for 10 years and confirmed his Ampas membership had been revoked.
The Academy said in a statement at the time: “The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behaviour we saw Mr Smith exhibit on stage.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room.
“For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short – unprepared for the unprecedented.”
In July, Smith revealed he had “reached out” to Rock, but he was “not ready to talk”.
He said: “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, when he is, he will reach out.
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologise to you.
“My behaviour was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”