oscars 2022

Parents React to the Slap

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

Update April 24: Chris Rock’s mother has weighed in. Speaking to South Carolina news station WIS-TV, Rose Rock said “When Will slapped Chris, he slapped all of us. But he really slapped me. When you hurt my child, you hurt me.” Her statements also seemed to imply that Smith hasn’t reached out to Rock beyond the written statement he gave press. “His people wrote up a piece and said, ‘I apologize to Chris Rock,’ but something like that is personal,” she said. “You reach out.”

Original story follows.

On Oscars Sunday, Will Smith became the first man to slap a comedian onstage and win Best Actor not an hour later. In his tear-filled acceptance speech, he compared his defending of Jada Pinkett Smith over an insensitive G.I. Jane joke to the titular King Richard’s protectiveness of his daughters Venus and Serena. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams,” Smith said. “But love will make you do crazy things.” Now, the real King Richard has something to say about Smith’s Oscars debacle. “We don’t know all the details of what happened,” Richard Williams told NBC via his son Chavoita LeSane. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.” LeSane — who has been his father’s de facto spokesperson since he suffered a stroke — declined to comment on Smith’s speech.

Will Smith’s mother, Carolyn Smith, also weighed in on the slap heard round the world. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen him go off,” she told ABC Action News in Philadelphia. “First time in his lifetime… I’ve never seen him do that.” Smith’s mother also expressed pride over his first Oscar statuette despite the night’s proceedings. “I know how he works, how hard he works…I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. When I heard the name, I was just, ‘Yes!’” She added, “I am proud of him being him.”

Smith himself provided an initial apology to The Academy during his speech but didn’t mention Chris Rock until his Instagram apology on March 29. “I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be,” he wrote.

Parents React to the Slap