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'I betrayed the trust of the Academy;' Will Smith resigns from Academy of Motion Picture Arts following backlash from Oscars incident

Will Smith resigns from Academy of Motion Pictures following Oscars fallout 02:18

Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the immense backlash that came from his ill-fated slap of Chris Rock.

Smith was already facing expulsion from the Academy, after an inquiry was launched in regards to the incident on Sunday at the Academy Awards, which saw him walk on stage and slap Rock, who had just made a joke about his wife - Jada Pinkett Smith - and her alopecia diagnosis. 

The statement, released Friday afternoon, read:

"I have directly responded to the Academy's disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. 

I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason."

The Academy confirmed the resignation moments after Smith's statement was released. David Rubin, the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, also issued release Friday afternoon that said:

"We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith's immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18."

This move comes just days after the Academy announced that disciplinary hearings were underway, and that a vote on whether to suspend or expel Smith would happen in April. Previous members who faced expulsion from the Academy included Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.

"From his perspective, I think this is a question of optics," said Eric Kohn, the Executive Editor at Indiewire. "He's doing the 'quote-unquote' right thing, and that will also allow people to start to see him in a more agreeable light."

Kohn also mentioned that for Smith to fully save face, he will need to show real contrition - not only to his fans but to the entertainment world. 

"It makes a lot of sense, not only in terms of what is morally the right thing to do, but in terms of how it best serves his needs as somebody who's still very much a public facing individual," Kohn continued.

Smith issued a public apology to Rock Monday afternoon, stating that his behavior was "out of line."

Several investigations have been launched as a result of the altercation, and the Los Angeles Police Department even detailed that officers were backstage prepared to arrest Smith, though Rock denied pressing charges.

It was not immediately clear whether Smith would be able to keep his Oscar for Best Actor, which he just won for his role in "King Richard" at Sunday's awards ceremony. Neither Polanski nor Weinstein's Academy Awards were revoked following their expulsion.

It's also notable that Academy membership is not required to be nominated for an Oscar.

However, in theory, the Academy technically owns the Oscars statuettes that they hand out to the award recipients, so they could come after their property, but Kohn noted that it was highly unlikely that such a measure would be taken.

Various reports have also been made alleging that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after the slap occurred, but he denied their requests; while other sources detailed that he was in fact urged to stay instead of be ejected. 

The 53-year-old actor has faced incredible backlash for his actions, with reaction ranging from Amy Schumer and Rob Reiner to Kathy Griffin and Tiffani Haddish.

The incident originally unfolded when Chris Rock took the stage to present an award at Sunday's ceremony. He made a joke at the expense of Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, suggesting that she would be the star sequel to the 1997 film "G.I. Jane," and joking that he couldn't wait to see it.

Smith, who appeared to laugh at the joke at first, then walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face, before returning to his seat. 

Rock could be heard saying, "Will Smith just slapped the s--t out of me," before Smith was heard shouting "Keep my wife's name out your f---ing mouth," several times.

Will Packer, one of the Academy Awards show producers, sat down for an interview with Good Morning America where he detailed the moments following the altercation, when he was able to speak with Rock. 

"He was telling me, 'I'm fine, let's just get past this. I'm getting out of here. I can't believe this happened,'" Packer recalled.

Rock, 57, has yet to make a formal statement on the incident, though he briefly addressed the slap at a comedy show in Boston on Wednesday, where he was quoted saying, "I don't have like a bunch of s--t about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have like a whole show I wrote before ... this weekend. And I'm still kind of processing what happened."

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