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Academy president regrets beating Will Smith

by Ana Lopez
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Academy president Janet Yang reiterated that the organization’s response to Will Smith punching Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony was “inadequate,” saying that “we must respond immediately, compassionately and forcefully” to similar incidents in the future.

Yang spoke at length about “their great idea” for the show’s 95th iteration at the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon, while also discussing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ response to the incident at last year’s awards ceremony.

As I’m sure you all remember, there was an extraordinary event at the Oscars, Yang added. “What happened on stage was completely inappropriate and the response from the organization was inadequate. This has taught us that the Academy must operate with full accountability and transparency, especially in times of crisis.

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In the interest of our industry and ourselves, we must act quickly, compassionately and decisively. In the future, you should and can expect nothing less from us,” she continued. We promise to maintain the highest standards while driving the improvements we want to see in our industry.

Prior to winning the Best Actor Oscar in 2022 (Here’s the full list of Oscar winners), Pinkett Smith took the stage at the Dolby Theater to hit comedian Rock after making an impromptu joke about Pinkett Smith’s baldness while presenting an award. Smith has now resigned from the Academy and has apologized numerous times.

According to the Academy, Smith was asked to leave the event, but he refused. After several weeks of thinking about how to deal with Smith’s behavior, the actor was banned from performing at their events for 10 years. “Violence is poisonous and harmful in all its manifestations.”

I shouldn’t have acted like I did at the Oscars last night, Smith noted in an Instagram post at the time.

“I am sincerely sorry that my actions marred what has been a wonderful adventure for all of us.” Smith’s conduct was previously addressed by the Academy, which acknowledged at one point that “we could have handled the matter differently”.

Again, they stressed that they “did not adequately handle the situation in the room” and labeled Smith’s behavior as “inappropriate and destructive behavior”. It concluded: “We fell short – unprepared for the unprecedented – in this opportunity to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world.

Most of Yang’s speech was spent discussing how this year’s ceremony will focus on the “collaborative aspect of cinema.” She stated that

“The Academy strives to be a driver of togetherness for both our artists and the public.”

“I implore all of us to focus our efforts on preserving the exceptional, brilliant community we call home.” I want to emphasize the affection and respect we have for both the filmmaking profession and our other professionals. Because this space and this industry together have overwhelming power, I invite us to develop together.

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