Was Will Smith asked to leave the Oscars ceremony after the slap?

Conflicting stories have emerged after The Academy revealed Will Smith refused to leave the televised ceremony after the shocking moment

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The fallout from “the slap” continues. Days after the 94th Annual Academy Awards where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, the Academy announced it is launching a formal investigation into the incident.

After the shocking moment, Smith remained at the ceremony and later accepted the award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard.

The situation has left many wondering why Smith was able to stay in the room in the first place, accept his award, and then celebrate at afterparties. The incident has sparked significant debate online regarding the slap, what it means culturally, and whether or not Smith should face the consequences for his actions.

94th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S., Will Smith walks off stage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Late Wednesday, the Academy released an official statement regarding the incident sent to theGrio, and wrote that Smith “refused” to leave the ceremony after being asked.

The statement reads, “The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy. 

Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

The statement continued, “Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.

Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”

Recent reporting, however, alleges otherwise. Per Variety, while some Academy members expressed that they wanted Smith removed from the ceremony, “no formal or explicit ask was ever made.” The sources also claim that Will Packer, who produced the ceremony this year, was key to Smith remaining in his seat.

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show
Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“In the roughly 30 minutes following Smith’s attack on Rock, before the award for Best Actor was presented, Packer walked out into the orchestra and conferred with Smith, according to two witnesses,” the report reads.

“Packer said that he and the production ‘officially’ wanted Smith to stay for the remainder of the show, according to one of the witnesses.” A source “close to Packer,” however, has denied to Variety that Packer urged the actor to stay.

Following the Variety report, sources close to production tell theGrio that Smith was indeed asked to leave, and that it was, “relayed to the Academy that he refused.”

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