Published: 8th of June, 2022Last updated: June 8, 2022 at 11:00 am
On the evening of the 27th of March, 2022, at the Oscar Awards Ceremony at Dolby Theater, Hollywood, California, Comedian Chris Rock was on stage. He joked about a lot of things. Then he turned his attention to actress Jada Smith. “Jada, I love you,” he said, “…I’ll see you in the next GI Jane.”
At that point, the audience burst into a fit of laughter, including King Richards star, Will Smith, who, by the way, is most famous for his role in the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” series which he starred as a teenager. As the laughter died down, the camera turned to Will Smith walking to the stage towards to Chris Rock.
Chris Rock looked at Will Smith as he approached and said, “Richard is here.” A straight-faced Smith got closer to Chris Rock, stood squarely in front of him, and connected a forceful slap to the left side of his face. He then proceeded to walk off the stage and back to his seat. As he left, Chris Rock, visibly shaken and barely able to hold his composure, said in a tone of amazement, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.”
Will Smith then took his seat, composed himself, and shouted to Chris Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out yo fucking mouth!” He shouting that twice. Chris Rock, still in shock and disbelief, responded, “I will, OK?”
Everyone wondered for a while if the whole story was “staged,” (no pun intended), but inside sources told the media that it wasn’t, and that it was a deliberate and spontaneous act by Will Smith.
Later that evening, when Will Smith went on stage to collect his Oscar award, he didn’t even bother to apologize to Chris Rock. Instead, he talked about the importance of defending family.
To put the whole scenario into context, GI Jane was an action/thriller movie in which actress Demi Moore starred with low-shaven hair. Jada Smith had been carrying a bald head for some time now. So in that context, Rock was joking that Jada would make a good star for a sequel to the GI Jane movie. What he didn’t seem to know is that Jada Smith had a medical condition which caused her hair to fall off, so to save the trouble, she just shaved it all off.
When Chris Rock made the joke, Will Smith was seen bubbling with laughter. But then the camera turned to Jada Smith whose facial expression betrayed that she was visibly pained by the joke. Will Smith took the cue and went onstage to “defend” Jada.
For days and months after, the backlash ensued. Media outlet after media outlet carried spinoffs and follow-ups to the story. Celebrities and public figures took turns one after the other putting in their two cents about what they thought about the Chris Rock/Will Smith onstage affair. The world thought they’d never hear the end of it.
The general public however, drifted in support of Chris Rock and condemnation of Will Smith. Only a handful of influential persons voiced support for Will Smith. Smith was later pressured to resign from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences and also offered a well-worded apology to Chris Rock. Smith was also banned from attending Oscars Ceremonies and any other Academy Event for ten years. He later mentioned from a psychological standpoint, the helplessness he had felt in not being about to defend his mother.
Chris Rock was relatively mum about the whole incident, and to date, hasn’t made any comment. He was praised for his composure during the incident. His popularity grew after the slap that was heard around the world, and that of Will Smith plummeted. Smith had several major contracts canceled because of his behavior on stage that evening and his career suffered a tremendous blow.
Jada Smith, on the other hand, commented some time after that Will Smith should not have resorted to violence, and also added that she doesn’t need defending.