Will Smith Wins Best Actor at BET Awards Following Oscars Scandal

Will Smith attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on March 27, 2022.
Jay L Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

Three months after Will Smith raised eyebrows for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, the actor scored big for his role in King Richard at the 2022 BET Awards.

Smith, 53, who did not attend the awards show on Sunday, June 26, won best actor for the sports film based on Richard Williams. The Pennsylvania native’s costars Mikayla Bartholomew and Saniyya Sidney offered an update on Smith amid the controversy.

“Every time I talk to him, he always says everything is in divine splendor, ya know, so he’s good,” Bartholomew, who played Tunde Price, told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday. “It’s always good to chat with him.”

Sidney, for her part, was proud of how much King Richard accomplished since its debut late last year. “Our film was very special to us and Venus [Williams] and Serena [Williams] changed so many women’s lives, our lives,” the actress, who played Venus, said.

Earlier this year, Smith made headlines when he was involved in an altercation at the 94th annual Academy Awards. While presenting an award, Rock, 57, made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s shaved head. The Girls Trip star, 50, who has been candid about her alopecia diagnosis, rolled her eyes at the comment. In response, her husband walked on stage and slapped the comedian.

“Will Smith just smacked the s—t out of me,” the South Carolina native said in censored footage that later circulated online. As the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum returned to his seat, he was heard yelling at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth.”

Smith went on to use his acceptance speech for the best actor award at the Oscars as a platform to apologize. “Oh, man. Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” he said during the emotional speech, shortly after winning for his performance in King Richard. “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s OK.”

He concluded: “I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. … Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things. …Thank you for this moment. And thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. Thank you. I hope the academy invites me back.”

The I Am Legend star issued a second apology on social media one day after the incident. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” he wrote via Instagram.

In the lengthy message, Smith addressed his “unacceptable and inexcusable” actions toward Rock. “I would also like to apologize to The Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world,” he continued. “I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”

Less than one month after the situation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed that Smith would be banned from all Oscars events for 10 years following his resignation. The Suicide Squad star responded to his punishment, saying in a statement in April, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”

At the time, a source exclusively told Us Weekly that Smith and Pinkett Smith were taking steps to put the scandal behind them. “Right now they’re figuring things out, committing to therapy together and trying to salvage the best of a pretty horrible situation,” an insider revealed.

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