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94th Academy Awards - Back Stage

The president of the body responsible for the Oscars recently said that its response to Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock last year was sub-par.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Janet Yang made the remarks at the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon held on Monday (Feb. 13th). “As I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” she began, referencing the incident where Will Smith stepped onstage and slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada-Pinkett Smith at last year’s ceremony.

“What happened on stage was wholly unacceptable and the response from the 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.”

Yang went on to declare that “we must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward,” finishing her comments on the subject before pivoting to her thoughts on an expanded vision for the Academy.

“I want to remind us of the deep respect and love we have for our fellow colleagues and for the art of filmmaking. I invite us to grow together because the collective power of this room and this industry are unstoppable,” she concluded in front of a packed audience.

Yang’s remarks are a reiteration of the stance the Academy held in the wake of the infamous moment. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented,” they said in a statement.

The Academy had spent several weeks after the situation at the 94th edition of the Oscars deciding what to do before announcing that it would bar Smith from appearing at any of its events for a period of 10 years. The Oscar-winning actor would go on to resign from the Academy and issue several public apologies online.

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Getty