Will Smith Wins His First Oscar After Striking Chris Rock Onstage

By Sonal Nain, 28 Mar 2022

Will Smith finally won his first Oscar for best actor in a leading role for King Richard at the 94th Academy Awards held at the Dolby theatre. King Richard is a biographical sports drama film directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green that follows the life of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, who are also executive producers of the film.

Smith has been successful at the third attempt, having been nominated twice before for best actor — for Ali in 2002 and The Pursuit of Happyness in 2007.

Smith had brought the ceremony to a halt by striding onstage from his seat and smacking Chris Rock after the comedian made a dig at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith and her shaved head, while presenting the best documentary award. (Pinkett Smith has been open about her alopecia, a hair loss condition).

Smith then returned to his seat and angrily yelled at Rock, using an expletive – not to say his wife’s name. 

In an emotional acceptance speech after receiving the Oscar, Smith told the audience, “I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that’s okay.”

Smith addressed the controversy with reference to the character he played in King Richard, “Richard William was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.


Smith also gave a teary-eyed apology during his acceptance speech after hitting Chris Rock, “I want to apologize to all of my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me; it’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people.”