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Will Smith resigns from Academy: ‘I am heartbroken’

Hollywood, California - Will Smith. "Gemini Man" Los Angeles Premiere held at TCL Chinese Theatre
Will Smith announced his resignation from the Academy after slapping Chris Rock. Pic credit: ©ImageCollect.com/BirdieThompson/AdMedia

Not even a full week after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, Will announced his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts.

Will smacked Chris at the Oscars after Chris made a joke about Jade Pinkett Smith’s shaved head despite Jada’s openness about struggling with alopecia

The slap heard ‘round the world quickly gained attention from viewers and celebrities alike, some agreeing with Will’s actions, some disagreeing, and others simply seeing it as something funny that happened at the Oscars. 

However, it appears that Will deeply regrets his actions and is doing everything he can to make the situation right. 

Will Smith resigns from the Academy after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

Will Smith’s representative released a statement from the actor to People in which Will said, “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.”

Will has previously apologized for his actions, but apparently that apology wasn’t deemed enough. Whether it was of his own accord or outside influences isn’t known, but his lengthy statement seemed to be full of regret. 

He continued, “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.”

In what could be an attempt to right his wrongs, Will concluded his statement by announcing that he was leaving the Academy, stating, “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.”

What does it mean to leave the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

The Academy is a global organization and has members from all over the world. Membership in the Academy is reserved for “film artists working in the production of theatrically-released motion pictures.” 

There are 17 branches in the Academy for different roles such as Actors and Writers, and even includes a branch for academy members who work in movie production but don’t necessarily fit into one of the other existing branches. 

According to their website, members need to have “truly ‘demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures.’” 

The association is comprised of thousands of media professionals and helps these movie professionals succeed, even if only by helping them build connections. 

The Academy has a history of expelling members who don’t fit their criteria any longer or members who have faced severe backlash or committed crimes. 

There is controversy regarding the Academy threatening expulsion, as they didn’t penalize John Wayne for trying to remove Sacheen Littlefeather in 1973 and allowed Roman Polanski to win an Academy Award in 2022 despite his 1978 rape conviction in France. 

Polanski was later expelled from the Academy in 2019 but was given a pass for a very long time. Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy in 2017 after his sexual misbehavior was made public, but they did not rescind his Oscar for producing Shakespeare in Love. 

Will Smith is forfeiting his connection to the Academy by choice rather than facing expulsion. 

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