Will Smith won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, in the film “King Richard,” and he won it just moments after jumping on stage and slapping Chris Rock for making a joke about Smith’s wife.
Rock joked about wanting to see Jada Pinkett Smith in a sequel to the film “G.I. Jane”—an apparent reference to her shaved head, which is the result of a medical condition called alopecia. Will Smith laughed at first, but as it became clear that his wife was not amused, Smith walked onstage and slapped Rock. The comedian tried to laugh it off, saying, “Will Smith just smacked the sh-t out of me.”
However, as the audience chuckled, Smith made it clear he wasn’t joking. “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth,” he said. Rock tried to explain that it was a joke, and Smith yelled again, louder this time. “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” It was a moment layered with the ugliest aspects of modern fame, race and gender. More than that, it was a moment that crystallized the pressures of trying to juggle them all.
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Photo: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at Academy Awards, by Budiey. Creative Commons License