Will Smith Makes Startling Career Move Following Oscars Slap

2022 will go down in Oscars history for all the wrong reasons. Normally, all the buzz would be centering around the unexpected honors for "CODA," or the unprecedented three-woman hosting team of Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall, or the lump-in-throat moment when Lady Gaga and an ailing Liza Minnelli presented the Best Picture award (via BuzzFeed). Instead, the 94th annual Academy Awards will be remembered only for The Slap. Presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head, apparently not realizing the actress has the hair-loss condition alopecia. That prompted her husband, Will Smith, to march onstage and smack the comedian across the face, then returned to his seat and yell at Rock to "keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth" (per The Washington Post). 

Minutes later, Smith received the Best Actor award for his starring role in "King Richard," but the moment was more embarrassing than triumphant. The week that followed was a blur of reactions, comments, and investigations. Smith apologized to Rock on his Instagram account, and Rock seemed anxious to put the whole incident behind him. But a public assault can't be ignored or allowed to go without consequences.

Calling his own behavior "shocking, painful, and inexcusable," the newly minted Oscar winner announced a stunning decision.

Will Smith is no longer a member of the Oscars academy

It was no April Fool's joke: Will Smith announced on Friday, April 1, that he is resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars. In a public statement (via CNBC), the "King Richard" actor said that he will "fully accept any and all consequences for [his] conduct" in using physical violence against Chris Rock for his joke on Oscar night. He went on to acknowledge that the slap caused hurt that went beyond physical pain for Rock and many others.

"I betrayed the trust of the Academy," Smith wrote. "I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. 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.

"So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate," the actor concluded. "Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason."

Will Smith has given up his Academy privileges

Will Smith's decision to resign from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was huge. The membership is made up of people from every aspect of the film industry – from actors and directors to writers, costume designers and publicists – and requirements are strict. Actors like Smith must be invited to join the organization by two sponsors from the Board of Governors, and that only happens once a performer has appeared in at least three theatrically released films of "high...caliber," according to the Oscars website.

Joining AMPAS has one major perk: Members are the ones who decide on both the Oscar nominees and winners, explains Britannica. Members vote only for the nominees in their specific branch, with the exception of Best Picture, which is voted on by the entire Academy. By resigning from the Academy, Smith has relinquished the privilege of helping decide which actors are worthy of future Oscars. 

Further disciplinary action against the "King Richard" actor has yet to be announced, but at least one person may be upset to learn of Smith's resignation. According to the producer of the 2022 Oscars, Chris Rock specifically asked that Smith not be removed from the Academy (via People). Another question is still up in the air: Traditionally, the winner of the Best Actor award presents the award for Best Actress the following year, according to Mental Floss. Will we ever see Will Smith on the Oscars stage ever again?