Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after sparking controversy for slapping Chris Rock onstage during the Academy Awards on Sunday.
The 53-year-old actor, who later that night accepted the Best Actor Oscar for his work in ‘King Richard,’ announced in a statement sent by his reps to USA TODAY on Friday that he would be stepping down from the Academy for his “shocking, painful and inexcusable actions”.
“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, everyone in attendance and a global audience back home,” Smith continued. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived the other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. My heart is broken.”
Smith also said he had responded to the Academy’s Notice of Disciplinary Hearing and would “fully accept all consequences.” He also noted that he would like to “re-emphasize those who deserve recognition for their accomplishments and allow the Academy to return to the incredible work it does to support the creativity and artistry of filmmaking.”
“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again let violence take precedence over reason,” he added.
In a separate statement provided to USA TODAY on Friday, Academy President David Rubin confirmed that the organization has received and accepted Smith’s immediate resignation.
“We will continue to advance our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violating the Academy’s standards of conduct, prior to our next board meeting scheduled for April 18,” Rubin added.
Smith’s statement comes days after the Academy announced the opening of “disciplinary proceedings” against the actor for “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and undermining the integrity of the Academy”.
The Academy also said Smith was asked to leave the Oscars after he slapped Rock on stage and shouted swear words, but the actor refused. Smith’s actions came after Rock made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, which is due to alopecia.
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After winning the Best Actor award, Smith gave a tearful speech on stage to apologize to the Academy.
“Things unfolded in a way that we could not have foreseen,” the Academy statement read. “Although we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently.”
The Academy also condemned Smith’s actions as a “deeply shocking and traumatic event to witness in person and on television” and issued an apology to Rock.
As a result of Smith’s actions, the Academy provided the actor with “15 days’ notice to vote regarding his violations and penalties, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response.” The Academy said it may decide to take further disciplinary action at its next board meeting on April 18.
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The organization considers “physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome” to be “unacceptable conduct,” according to the Academy’s standard of conduct.
“If the Academy finds that a member has breached these standards or compromised the integrity of the Academy through his or her actions…the Academy may take any disciplinary action authorized by the Academy’s bylaws, up to and including suspension of membership or expulsion from membership,” the document read.
Other disciplinary actions include public or private reprimand, temporary or permanent privilege to participate in Academy events, temporary or permanent loss of eligibility for awards and also possible revocation of an Academy award.
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