Will Smith Posts Apology Video for Oscars Slap of Chris Rock

OWill Smith shared a video on YouTube, 29 July, in which he apologized for the controversial remarks he made about Chris Rock during March’s Oscars. Smith expresses deep regret for his act and apologizes to key people who were hurt.

“I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment. I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith said, speaking directly into the camera. “There’s no part of me that thinks that was the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

The incident occurred when Rock made a joke during the broadcast at the expense of Smith’s wife, fellow actor Jada Pinkett-Smith. Smith interpreted the joke to be a reference to his wife’s struggles with alopecia, and suddenly arose from his seat, walked onstage, and hit Rock in the face, causing confusion and overshadowing many of the events of the night, including his own Oscar win for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard.

Learn more Will Smith’s Slap Was Shocking. It was not the Debate that Followed.

In the new video, Smith covers three main questions that people have been posing since the slap: first, why Smith didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech later that night; second, whether Pinkett-Smith encouraged him to confront Rock; and third, what Smith has to say to people who struggle to reconcile his actions with his position as a role model.

“I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out,” Smith said in response to the first question, which appears as text across the bottom of the video. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Smith directed the first apology to Rock, Rock’s family, Rock’s mother, and Tony Rock, Chris Rock’s brother, who Smith said he had had a friendship with before the slap. Smith moved on to offer his family an apology and to the Academy Award nominees with whom he was a shadow that evening.

“Disappointing people is my central trauma. It hurts me to let people down. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know that I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me,” Smith said. “I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of sh-t.”

Learn more Don’t Overlook the Misogynoir That Lies at the Root of the Will Smith-Chris Rock Incident

Smith uploaded the video to YouTube, where he currently has 9.83 millions followers. It’s the first video Smith has posted there since the Oscars four months ago. Although there were rumors that Smith would speak out in an interview with a prominent journalist, Smith chose to keep his channels open to direct communication with his fans and critics, while still telling his story about the controversy.

Many top commentators on the video praise Smith for his apology.

“You’re an outstanding man and respectable for this video. You’ve always been my role model and this shows it takes a real man to admit they were wrong. I suggest everyone reads your book, your actions make sense then,” a fan wrote in the comments section with 3,400 other users upvoting the comment.

Smith’s video links to his memoir, a New York TimesLast November was a bestseller. The book recounts Smith’s pursuit of inner happiness and mastery over his emotions, despite the intense pressure he’s felt as a celebrity. Smith’s book sales spiked after the Oscars and some commentators say that reading about Smith’s experience has helped them understand why he did what he did.

“I know it was confusing. It was hard to believe, but it is what I have done. I pledge that I will continue my efforts to bring light, love, and joy to the world. If you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again,” Smith said to his fans.

Check out the video:

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