After a hiatus, Will Smith made a return toView Post the awards show circuit. The 54-year-old actor made an appearance at the 14th annual African American Film Critics Association Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday evening and gave a speech.
This was Smith’s first time receiving an award in person at a ceremony since the 2022 Academy Awards incident where he slapped Chris Rock onstage.
At the AAFCA Awards, Smith was presented with the Beacon Award alongside Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua. Charmaine Bingwa, his co-star, and Gil L. Robertson, AAFCA co-founder, presented the award.
After Fuqua’s brief speech, Smith stepped onto the stage to deliver a few words.
During his speech, Smith shared a personal experience of being spit on by a white co-star during a scene, which had a profound impact on his understanding of slavery-era injustice.
He recounted, “It was the second day of shooting and it was 110 degrees. I was filming a scene with one of the white actors, and we had our lines, but the actor decided to ad-lib. So, we did the scene. I said my line, he said his line, and then he ad-libbed and spat in the middle of my chest. If I had pearls on, I would have definitely clutched them. I wanted to say, ‘Antoineeeeee,’ but I stopped, and I realized that Peter [the white actor] couldn’t have called the director.”
Smith went on to describe the same incident happening again during the second take, but he held in his reaction. He shared, “There was a part of me that was grateful that I got to really understand. And then, in the distance, I hear a voice, and Antoine says, ‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit.’ And in that moment, I knew that God was real.”
Smith expressed his gratitude to the African American Film Critics Association and Apple for their support in making his film, “Emancipation,” a reality, despite budgetary challenges. He praised Apple’s commitment to prioritizing the story over the cost and said, “They make iPhones. They can do it.”
Although he won the Best Actor award for his role as Peter in “Emancipation” at the NAACP Image Awards, Smith was noticeably absent from the event. He expressed his gratitude by posting a thank-you message on his Instagram account.
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This week, Chris Rock is set to make a significant appearance as well. On March 4th, Netflix will broadcast its inaugural live stand-up special, “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.” The comedian is anticipated to use humor to address the incident where Smith slapped him at the 2022 Oscars.
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) December 25, 2022