At the Oscars ceremony on Sunday (March 27), Smith struck the comedian on-stage following a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. In 2018, Pinkett Smith revealed she has alopecia.
Minutes after the incident, Questlove was awarded Best Documentary for his film Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) by Rock, but admitted that he had no idea what had just transpired on stage.
He told Jimmy Fallon: “They tell you ahead of time, this is your category, and so, in that moment, you’re either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I’ve been like meditating for the past couple of years.
“And when the commercial break happened, I was in my ‘Mmmm.’ So when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realise. ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’”
Questlove continued: “As I’m walking to the stage, I’m kind of putting two and two together, and I realise that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words. But in my mind, they were just doing a sketch or whatever, and I’m just like, ‘OK Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad.’ So I was not present at all. I was just in a blank space.”
Many celebrities have come out to condemn Smith for his actions after he struck the comedian on-stage for saying that he couldn’t wait to see Pinkett Smith in “G.I. Jane 2”, alluding to her shaven head. The actor has been vocal about suffering from the autoimmune disease alopecia, sharing the effects of the condition with her followers on social media.
Others, including Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Janet Hubert, have even defended Smith. “Will stood up for his wife, Chris Rock is always disrespecting Black women. Mean spirited hides behind comedy. BULL,” she said.
“Imm bummed no one stood up for Chris Rock in the moment and after, will smith shoulda tried to stand up to Eminem and Dr Dre same way…isn’t it Chris Rock job’s (!?) to make fun of people in the audience, very weird.”
Following the ceremony, Smith released a statement apologising to Rock. “I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris,” the statement read. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”
The Academy has launched a formal review into the incident to “explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law”.
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