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Will Smith resigns from the Academy following Chris Rock slap

‘I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention’

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in the wake of slapping Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards ceremony on earlier this week.

While Rock was presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss. Smith then took to the stage and slapped the comedian, yelling at him to “keep [his] wife’s name out of [Rock’s] fucking mouth!” Although Smith went on to apologize publicly for the incident, both during his Best Actor acceptance speech and later in a statement released on Instagram, rumors continued to swirl about whether the Academy would take more drastic punishment measures.

In his statement announcing his resignation from the Academy, reported by Variety, Smith said noted that he had “directly responded” to their disciplinary hearing notice, and “fully accept any and all consequences” for his actions.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith wrote. “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.”

He concluded by stating that “change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

While Rock has declined to press charges against Smith, the Academy’s inquiry is ongoing.

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