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Academy President Janet Yang reiterated that the organization’s response to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony was “inadequate” and that “we must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively” on similar issues in the future.
Yang addressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ response to the incident at last year’s awards show during the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon while touching broadly on “their exciting vision” for the 95th iteration of the show.
“As I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang said. “What happened on stage was wholly unacceptable and the response from the organization was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions and particularly in times of crisis.”
“We must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward,” she added. “We are committed to maintaining the highest of standards while creating the changes we wish to see in our industry.”
During the 2022 ceremony, ahead of his best Oscar win, Smith took to the Dolby Theatre stage and slapped comedian Rock after he made an unscripted joke about Pinkett Smith’s baldness while presenting an award. Smith has since offered several apologies, in addition to resigning from the Academy, which previously said Smith was asked to leave the ceremony but declined. What ensued was several weeks of deliberation over how to address Smith’s behavior, resulting in the actor being banned from appearing at their events for 10 years.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Smith wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”
The Academy previously addressed Smith’s behavior, at one point admitting that “we could have handled the situation differently.” They also called Smith’s actions “unacceptable and harmful behavior” and, once again, noted that they did not “adequately address the situation in the room.”
“This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented,” it concluded.
The remainder of Yang’s speech saw the AMPAS president addressing how the “collaborative nature of cinema” will be the focal point of this year’s ceremony.
“The Academy aims to be a driver of unity for our artists and for the public,” she said. “I urge us all to focus our efforts on nurturing the extraordinary, brilliant community that we inhabit. I want to remind us of the deep respect and love we have for our fellow colleagues and for the art of filmmaking. I invite us to grow together because the collective power of this room and this industry are unstoppable.”
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