Will Smith Resigns From Academy Over ‘Painful and Inexcusable’ Attack

Will Smith has resigned his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rather than being suspended or expelled by the organization following his televised assault of Chris Rock during last Sunday’s Academy Awards. Smith announced his decision Friday, calling his slapping of Chris Rock in response to a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, “shocking, painful and inexcusable.”

Rock’s jibe took aim at Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, comparing her hair to the military-style ‘do Demi Moore wore in the 1997 film G.I. Jane. Pinkett Smith has said she suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. After appearing to chuckle at Rock’s comment, Smith rushed the stage and struck a stunned Rock across the face.

“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’s statement said. “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.”

Smith said he hoped his move would “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,” adding that he would accept “any further consequences” the Academy felt appropriate.

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

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