The 21-year-old singer reflected on the media maelstrom that ensued after her father slapped Academy Award presenter Chris Rock on stage.
Willow Smith shared her thoughts on dad Will’s infamous slap at the 2022 Academy Awards.
The musician, 21, reflected on the media maelstrom that ensued after her father, who won Best Actor for his role as patriarch Richard Williams in the Serena and Venus Williams sports drama King Richard, slapped presenter Chris Rock on stage after he made a joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia.
The intense media reaction did not “rock me as much as my own internal demons,” Willow told Billboard in an interview published Friday, adding, “I see my whole family as being human, and I love and accept them for all their humanness. Because of the position that we’re in, our humanness sometimes isn’t accepted, and we’re expected to act in a way that isn’t conducive to a healthy human life and isn’t conducive to being honest.”
Last month, after a social media hiatus, Will shared an emotional new video that addressed the incident that occurred during the March 27 telecast. The five-minute YouTube clip begins with a title card noting that he has done a lot of “thinking and personal work” over the past four months. “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy,” he said in response to a question that asked why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech following the slap.
“I’ve reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out,” Smith continued. “So, I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you, my behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.” He reiterated that there is “no part” of him that “thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment” or an “optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults” after Rock joked about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
The Oscar winner also denied speculation that Pinkett Smith’s reaction is what prompted him to slap Rock. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences and my history with Chris,” Smith said, later extending an apology to his family and Questlove, who won in the Best Documentary Feature category presented by Rock during the altercation.
“I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us,” he said. “To all my fellow nominees, you know, this is a community. I won because you voted for me, and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award, and it’s like ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient.”
Following the slap, the Academy banned the actor from attending its official events — including the awards ceremony — for the next 10 years. Smith also resigned as a member of the group. In June, Pinkett Smith called on her husband and Rock to reconcile during an alopecia-themed episode of Red Table Talk. “My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out, and reconcile,” she said.
“The state of the world today? We need them both, and we all actually need one another more than ever,” the co-host continued. “Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring out this thing called life together.” While Rock hasn’t responded to Smith publicly, he’s joked about it during various stand-up sets, reportedly telling an audience in May, “I’m okay, if anybody was wondering. Got most of my hearing back. Don’t expect me to talk about the bulls—. I’ll talk about it at some point… on Netflix.”