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Oscars President Janet Yang calls organization’s response to Will Smith slap ‘inadequate’

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Janet Yang speaks onstage during the announcement of the 95th Academy Award nominations at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on January 24, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Emma McIntyre/WireImage

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    Janet Yang, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), recently admitted that the organization’s response to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 ceremony was “inadequate.” 

    The admission came as part of Yang’s speech to the attendees of the annual Oscars Nominees Luncheon on Monday. 

    To recap, the incident occurred when host Chris Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness. Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard” shortly after and gave an emotional speech which received a standing ovation. Smith was asked to leave the Oscar ceremony after the incident occurred but refused. He was later banned from appearing at any AMPAS event for 10 years.

    Smith offered several apologies and resigned from the Academy after the incident.

    AMPAS initially admitted that they could have handled the situation with Smith differently, and later said that their actions did not “adequately address the situation in the room.” 

    The Academy called Smith’s actions “unacceptable and harmful behavior” and an opportunity for them to set an example for their guests, viewers and Academy family around the world.

    Yang reiterated the Academy’s previous statement, adding that they will be “fully transparent” in their future actions.

    What happened onstage was fully unacceptable, and the response from our 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 you must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward. 

    Yang went on to note 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.”

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