Faced with the very real prospect of expulsion from the Academy following his actions at Sunday’s 94th Academy Awards, Best Actor winner Will Smith has announced that he has resigned his from his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, stating that his on-stage assault of presenter Chris Rock “betrayed the trust of the Academy” and was “shocking, painful, and inexcusable”.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” reads Smith’s statement. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. 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. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Smith previously apologised to the Academy (but not Rock) during his acceptance speech as he picked up the Oscar for Best Actor for King Richard, before offering a further apology on Tuesday after it was announced that the Academy was opening a formal review into the incident. This review will continue, with Academy president David Rubin offering the following statement in response to Smith’s resignation:
“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18th.”