AAPI celebrities react to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

the slap
Image: E News; Guardian; ABC7
  • Many AAPI celebrities and personalities have publicly shared their reactions to the now-infamous Oscars moment on Sunday when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for joking about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
  • Among them are both those who attended the event in person and those who watched virtually, including Henry Golding, Daniel Dae Kim, George Takei, veteran journalist May Lee, Angry Asian Man Phil Yu, Simu Liu, Chrissy Teigen, Jason Momoa and Jameela Jamil.
  • “Many people, especially kids, look up to actors,” Takei said. ““Because of that, we have an obligation to try to be good role models. With celebrity comes responsibility.”
  • Smith later apologized to Rock in an Instagram post the following day, saying his behavior at the Academy Awards was “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Many celebrities were left aghast when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars on Sunday.

For those somehow still unfamiliar with the now-infamous incident, Smith got into a physical altercation with Rock after the comedian joked about the shaved head of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. While presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary, Rock said, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see you, all right?”

The actress first revealed she was diagnosed with alopecia, a type of autoimmune disorder that results in hair loss, during a 2018 episode of her Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk.”

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The camera immediately panned to Pinkett Smith and captured her rolling eyes. Seconds later, Smith stood up from his seat, approached the comedian on stage and without warning slapped him on his cheek.

Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth!” Smith yelled at Rock from his seat.

Many celebrities were shocked, with “Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding telling E Online at the annual Vanity Fair Oscars after-party that the incident was “low blows all around.”

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I think there’s a deeper sort of story behind everything, and I’m sure Jada has some things that perhaps she’s struggling with and maybe it definitely has been a family sort of a thing that they’ve been going through,” he said.

Actor George Takei told ABC News, Many people, especially kids, look up to actors. Because of that, we have an obligation to try to be good role models. With celebrity comes responsibility.”

There are so many highlights,” Daniel Dae Kim told ABC7 News when asked which was his favorite part of the show that night. “But what everyone is buzzing about is Chris Rock and Will Smith.”

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That was a stunning moment, and it is something I will remember for a while,” Kim continued, later indicating he had initially thought it was a joke, adding, “I have never seen anything like that on television before, but that’s live TV I guess.”

In a Facebook post, veteran journalist May Lee said what Smith did at the Oscars was “NOT a good example of chivalry or love.”

Knowing that millions of people, including children and victims of violence, are watching, should have been taken into consideration by Will Smith before he slapped Chris Rock,” Lee said. “Yes, it was an insensitive joke, but he should have dealt with it in private. What a sad moment.”

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Phil Yu, who recently won a Peabody Trailblazer Award for his blog “Angry Asian Man,” tagged “Shang Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings” actor Simu Liu, who was in attendance, for details on Twitter.

Liu played coy in his own tweet about attending the Oscars, including photos of himself at the event with the caption, “This is all I remember from the weekend please do not ask me about anything else that may or may not have transpired because I do not possess any recollection of anything you are talking about except for what took place in these photos which is all I remember from the weekend.”

Model Chrissy Teigen also took to Twitter on Monday to address the controversial moment, writing, “I can no longer pretend I am not reading all these hot takes.”

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While speaking to People, “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa offered up an empathetic perspective.

I don’t know. You just never know where people are at, you know? There’s a tipping point for everyone, right? I’ve had my places,” Momoa said. “He can ask for forgiveness. Sometimes you’re just sensitive. We’re all sensitive. I’m not walking in his shoes, [but] I’ve definitely been in places like that.”

He also expressed his belief that both Smith and Rock would work things out, saying they are both “amazing human beings.”

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“The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil also reacted to the Oscars moment on Twitter, writing, “There was that one time my good friend Will slapped my other friend Chris, because he’d said something rude about my best friend, Jada.”

Will Smith said ‘Not Today,’” Jamil continued in another tweet that included a quote from former activist Malcolm X. “A man big enough to absolutely floor him, slapped him softly enough that Chris barely moved, because he made fun of his wife’s alopecia on a world stage. Don’t say #protectBlackwomen for two years and then only condemn Will here. Come on…”

Smith apologized to Rock in an Instagram post the day after the incident, calling his behavior at the Academy Awards “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

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Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith added.

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.”

The Los Angeles Police Department also later released an official statement indicating that an unnamed individual had “declined to file a police report” in response to an incident at the Academy Awards

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