Will Smith did a YouTube apology to Chris Rock, Jada & the Oscar nominees

On Friday, Will Smith decided to post a video to his YouTube channel. This was his first YouTube video in four months, and (obviously) the first video since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in late March. The slap will probably go down as the biggest moment in pop culture this year, and I’m sure we will see references to the slap for years to come. In the weeks following the Oscars, Will Smith formally apologized to everyone in a public statement and he also resigned from the Academy. Soon after, the Academy banned Will from the Oscars for ten years. That was after the Academy repeatedly lied about what was said and done following the slap, and that was after too many people decided that Will Smith had personally slapped all of their mothers, daughters and grandmothers. In any case, this video marks the first on-camera comments Will has made.

About Chris Rock, Will said that “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out.” Then he apologizes on camera, saying his behavior was unacceptable and “I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.” He also apologizes to Chris’s mother and Chris’s brother Tony.

Will talks about spending the last three months reflecting and unpacking his behavior in that moment and why he did what he did. Smith said: “There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.” He also addressed the asinine theory that Jada encouraged him or “made” him slap Chris. Of course Will said it was all on him: “It’s like, you know, I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry, babe. I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.” His own history with Chris, meaning – in my opinion – this was not the first time Will has told Chris to take Jada’s name out of his mouth.

Will also apologizes to all of the other Oscar nominees that night. Which was just a reminder, to me, of how up until the slap, Will had actually played the awards-show circuit perfectly. He was arguably the most popular award-nominee this awards season, and he loved being at the SAGs and all the other shows. He was glad-handing and posing for photos with everyone and one of the reasons why people initially tuned into the Oscars telecast was because everyone knew it was Will’s year and people were genuinely happy for him. We can all acknowledge that the slap was wrong and it derailed the Oscars. But I hope we can also talk about how Will’s life and career doesn’t deserve to be defined by that one moment?

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, screencap courtesy of YouTube.

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65 Responses to “Will Smith did a YouTube apology to Chris Rock, Jada & the Oscar nominees”

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  1. Midnight@theOasis says:

    I’m glad Will did this. He’s obviously put in the work these past few months to deal with what happened. And this moment should not define Will’s life and career. Now let’s hope others can let this go and move forward. As for Chris Rock, he’s on the circuit making jokes now about the slap. So he’s cashing in on it. I will say it was eye opening to see how so many people reacted. And Kaiser is right, you’d have thought Will personally slapped a gazillion people given the meltdowns and hissy fits.

    • Jenn says:

      My thoughts exactly. When I saw the headline I thought “wow, it must really be harming his career, for him to make a statement like this,” but from the statement it’s clear that he has actually been trying to process what happened that evening. (Chris Rock uses his own standup to process stuff, so I do understand why he’s just like “no thanks, I have no need,” as well)

      • Duchcheese says:

        I am just glad Will addressed this. And much as I wish everybody, including me, would let this go, I also wish everyone of Will’s fans can take an example from Will himself and quit making any exuses. What Chris Rock is doing and whether or not is benefitting/profiting from the slap is irrelevant, Will smacked Chris and that was totally unacceptable, and Will has sincerely acknowledged and taken responsibility for his behavior, good on him. Let’s all stop villifying any of these people, we know little to nothing that goes on in their personal lives. I pray for Will and his family to heal from this trauma too, it would be just so unfair for Will to pay with the rest of his life for just one moment in all his life. Both Will and Chris are millionaires, they both are gonna be okay financially. My other hope and prayer is for Will’s career to get back from this, he is not an evil person; really none of them is an evil person.

    • Marie says:

      to be fair, if Jada had done same thing, she would be in conservatorship by now – probably not but the point is, when a woman makes a mistake, no one ever forgets and move on from it, it rather becomes part of the narrative about her.

  2. Snuffles says:

    I’m willing to forgive Will. And none of this affects my enjoyment of his work, because I also agree this shouldn’t be the defining moment of his career. That said, it’s perfectly understandable if Chris Rock and his family aren’t ready to talk and forgive.

    • aftershocks says:

      ^^ Chris Rock needs to apologize to Jada and to Will, IMO, for years of mocking and harassing them publicly, out of jealousy. Jada chose Will over Chris, and Chris has never forgotten that.

      I agree with @Kaiser’s well-expressed take. There’s been too much piling on Will Smith for snapping emotionally. I blame the Academy for even inviting Chris Rock in the first place. Why was Chris allowed to present an award and ramble on making inappropriate jokes that were taking away from the award category he should have been focused on?

      Was he purposely there to rile and offend Will and Jada 10 minutes before the Best Actor award, which everyone knew would go to Will? How could the Academy forget Chris’s crude joke against Jada when he hosted the 2016 Oscars, the year Jada & Will supported the #OscarsSoWhite boycott?

      • HelloDolly! says:

        Yes, I still feel less sympathy for the supposed victim here, Chris Rock. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like Rock has continually needled Jada and possibly been a sexist asshole? And he gets to continually do this through the guise of humor and now even make money off of his mean spirit? The whole thing doesn’t sit right with me. And it clearly didn’t sit right with Will. I agree with Kaiser on all points.

    • Eurydice says:

      I like Will Smith’s work and this won’t change my opinion about that. In general, I think physical assault is a bad thing. Apologies are a good thing, but I’m not impressed by his publicly announcing “I tried to apologize to my victim, but he won’t listen to me.” Smith already apologized to everyone during the past several months, so this sounds like it’s specifically aimed at Rock in order to get him to forgive Smith in public.

  3. Eurydice says:

    Ok, not sure why it has to be a full-on video, but I guess performers have to perform.

    • Barbie1 says:

      Right. He has to do whatever it takes to endear himself to hollywood and regain his reputation once again. Seems like a difficult task.

  4. Southern Fried says:

    Not Will’s defining moment though it will be a joke for years to come. I find it disrespectful of Will to put this statement out when he knows Rock is not ready discuss it. Highly disrespectful. At this point screw Will and his feelings in what seems to one a well produced performance.

    • AnnaKist says:

      I agree, Southern Fried. It’s been so public for so long, even down here in Australia. I think it’s time for WS to pull his head in and let it die down for a while , and any future apology/ies should be made in private, not for public consumption, and when CR is ready to engage with him, if ever.

    • MissMarirose says:

      If Chris Rock isn’t ready to discuss it, why is it a part of his stand up act?

      • That's All She Wrote says:

        Truly. And, unfortunately, this is as much Will’s moment as Chris Rock’s. I think it’s good that Will put this out and expressed his remorse publicly. People have been saying for months how he has never publicly apologized to Rock.

      • Both Sides Now says:

        @ That’s All She Wrote, that’s what is chapping my ass! Rocks immediate statement was that it was in the past, or some bullsh!t he put out. Rock is milking this and will continue to milk it as long as possible. Rock apparently has not been offended, if he was offended, he would never utter another word about it.

        As for Will, I think he has been punished much too severely. A 10 year ban from attending the Oscars? Yet, Will clearly has stated that he has done the work to understand why he acted in the manner he did. He has apologized profusely for his actions even though the Oscars had chosen that POS Rock to deliver the best Actor given his misogynistic and sexist comments regarding Jada for the last umpteen years against her. The Oscars KNEW that Rock would behave inappropriately and he did.

        I blame the Oscars and Rock for this fall out. Granted, I am NOT giving Will a pass for having slapped Rock. But Will has apologized profusely, been punished as well as done the work to determine why he acted out in this manner.

        I will still watch Will in every movie he makes as he is an excellent actor to me. This will not take away the love that I have had for him.

      • Gabby says:

        Clearly I am not privy to the communication, but I wonder if reaching out to Chris Rock involved asking him to come hash it out on Jada’s show. I could see Chris Rock not ready to talk in that situation.

        Will appears quite unhappy just below the surface. I hope he addresses that over any worries about the slap or his career.

  5. Angelica Schuyler says:

    The thing that bothers me most about this apology is that he is trying to do it without feeling ashamed of himself. He SHOULD feel ashamed of himself and his behavior that night, because it was the wrong way to process his anger about Chris’ joke in that moment. If he gives himself a pass, he’s bound to repeat the same type of behavior again.

    • Snuffles says:

      He didn’t say that. He said he didn’t want to label himself as a shitty person. He’s more than that one moment. He has to be able to forgive himself.

    • MC2 says:

      Shame is not a motivator & does not illicit change. If you sit in shame, you’ll sit in your own crap & stew. Will has likely consulted therapists or psychologists that understand this. Living a shameless lifestyle is not the way to live a good life, but shaming yourself (or others) after a human folly will keep you (and others) in that same space to repeat the same old, unhelpful patterns.

  6. Well Wisher says:

    I am looking forward to his upcoming projects. By now he and Jada have to be aware that they have the grace and support from many people.
    I hope he is in a good place health-wise.

  7. PaperclipExtrordinaire says:

    Can’t help having the feeling that something is seriously wrong here…that he has always “presented well” but struggles terribly inside, AND that his marriage is deeply unhealthy. While I don’t agree with what he did that night, I feel extreme empathy for him. I think he’s in a lot of pain. I could be very wrong, though, so take it with a grain of salt, I guess?

    • snappyfish says:

      I agree. I went back and looked a few of the videos that Jada had posted online where she “surprised” Will on camera and he looked both miserable and at time on the verge of tears. I think something is very wrong and that might have been the reason for his attack on Chris. I think there is a great deal of manipulation in the Smith household. There is a video out there were Willow wrote a letter to Tupac and basically stated she knew he was still alive and that he needed to come back so that “we” could be happy again. Tupac was dead long before Willow was born.

      • PaperclipNumber99 says:

        To be clear, I wasn’t shading Jada. Just get a feeling the marriage itself isn’t healthy. Again, just my own spidey sense. Could be way off base!

    • Shelly bean says:

      I agree. I have thought for a number of years now he has lost that spark he used to have in his eyes. He smiles, but his eyes look miserable. Something else is going on underneath it all.

    • aftershocks says:

      ^^ In Will’s autobiography he talks about how his father’s domestic violence against his mother still affects him and how bad he feels about not having protected his mother. So for sure, Will has painful memories and triggers to deal with. His reaction to Chris’s insults was wrong, but in that moment of building pressure toward the best actor award, it was obviously difficult for Will to control his emotions. In his video apology, Will said he’s remorseful, but he’s not going down the road of feeling ashamed, because he’s human. That approach seems very reasonable to me. In order to redeem himself, it appears that Will is putting in the work, and he has humbled himself and apologized to everyone, and taken the overdone punishment by the Academy. He doesn’t need to drag himself down further by feeling ashamed about his wrong reaction.

      I think it’s cruel and going overboard to continue castigating Will for those who want him to apologize in a specific way, or for those who desire to continue piling on him. There’s such a thing as never being satisfied with anything Will says or does. If that’s the case, then why not ignore him and move on. There’s nothing Will can do now to change his reaction. He should not be made to pay for his uncharacteristic behavior in that moment for the rest of his life.

      There is a history and a back story between Jada, Chris, and Will. I’m sure Will has privately spoken to Chris about keeping Jada’s name out of his mouth. But Chris has always thought he has the right to slyly attack others under the guise of ‘joking.’ Chris should never have been asked to present that award on that night in the first place. He rambled on inappropriately, messing with Jada who was there to support her husband! Then later, Chris insulted one of the awardees by introducing them as, “three white guys and QuestLove.” Meanwhile, one of the three guys Chris labeled ‘white,’ is not white.

    • Fabiola says:

      They both seem miserable in the marriage. That’s why Jada wants an open marriage and Will is forced to accept it but deep down wanted a traditional marriage. Wills ex-wife mentioned Jada always does her own thing. Will should find someone that truly wants to be with him. Jada doesnt seem to be that person.

  8. butterflystella says:

    I saw Chris last month. It was a postponed show from Feb due to Covid. He didn’t mention the slap and we had to put our phones in pouches… it was a good show overall

    • Bex says:

      Would you have gone to Chris’ show if Will hadn’t slapped him?

      • Duchcheese says:

        Chris Rock is and has been a very successful comedian way before Will Smith attacked him on live TV. To suggest that people go to his shows because Will Smith smacked him is just absolutely ridiculous. Neither Chris nor Will made the other, they each are successful of their own merit.

  9. rawiya says:

    How many times does he have to apologize (and some people still aren’t happy)? He’s apologized more than certain celebrities have for proven child abuse, sexual assault, even death!

    • Angelica+Schuyler (Extremely Brazen Hussy) says:

      His apologies have been pretty disingenuous until now. Instead of the empty, meaningless apology he first came out with, he could have offered a sincerely genuine apology directed to the people he hurt – not just Chris Rock, but the Williams family, Questlove, the other Oscar winners that directly proceeded his slap….All those people got caught up in his performative foolishness that night. They deserved better. And the fact that it took him so long to actually get the words out of his mouth just shows that his heart wasn’t in it initially.

      A genuine apology is the first step to receiving forgiveness from those he wronged.

    • Southern Fried says:

      Who is asking him to apologize? He did, think it’s pretty clear to all that he’s remorseful. In this instance seems like Will is trying to prompt a public response from Rock. W needs to let it be, be quiet about Rock and move on. Like Angelica said I certainly hope Will has personally apologized to all the others affected by his actions.

    • Duchcheese says:

      Maybe people are opining because this apology is on Will Smith YT channel? I mean, how is Will so sure Chris watches WS youtube channel for him to put the apology there? At the end of the day, we all just gonna have opinions, I guess, and no one’s is more valid than the other.

  10. FHMom says:

    I’m over this whole story, but the Williams family deserve a special apology. Hopefully, he did that in private. He seems like a troubled guy and it’s good that he realizes it. He doesnt deserve for the slap to be a career defining moment, but I do think it’s going to follow him indefinitely.

    • Truthiness says:

      +1000 But I’m also certain that he has apologized to them privately. And his relationship with their family can be private/public, whatever the Williams family wants. Venus and Serena deserved their victory lap and night to shine and they were overshadowed. They were producers and it was their labor of love.

    • Fabiola says:

      I agree. I hope will apologized to the William’s family for ruining their night and staining the memory of what should have been a beautiful night for the family.

  11. NYC212 says:

    I continue to be disturbed by how Will’s feelings, concerns, emotions, and career are the center of this conversation. He is not the victim in any way, shape, or form. We NEVER hear anyone talking about how Jada feels. She was the one who was insulted over a medical condition one which, might I add, effects many black women. Once again, a black woman is barely a footnote in her own humiliation and victimization.

    There were two other black women who were collateral damage in all of this. While the movie King Richard was about their father, no one would have heard of him but for the mental and physical hard work of Venus and Serena. That night should have been their night too because there is no King Richard movie without them. Will Smith managed to steal their shine on Oscar night when he was accepting an award for his role in a movie which could not have been made without them and all they endured. Will Smith’s outburst and the rush of people to put their cape on for him while ignoring what that stunt did to Venus and Serena was another example of how black women are shunted aside.

    All I ever hear is people weeping over Will Smith reaping the consequences for punching someone at a work event. We all know that if we acted that way at work, we would be fired and arrested. If Will Smith did not want to be judged by the public and the Academy for slapping someone on stage, then he should have done it in private. Please stop defending someone who was wrong and start defending the black women who were wronged. Even if you don’t mean to, you are engaging in misogynoire. Ignoring black women’s pain is a vector of much of the abuse we take and have taken in society. I hear people say “protect black women” but all I see is people protecting the feelings and reputation of men. It’s hurtful and dangerous.

    • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

      I appreciate this Jada-centric perspective however I disagree with your point that if “ We all know that if we acted that way at work, we would be fired and arrested.” MeToo revealed the varying levels of workplace violence and harassment people especially women experience as they work or simply to keep their job. And there were and still are very little to no consequences for the people who enact that violence.

  12. girl_ninja says:

    We can all acknowledge that the slap was wrong and it derailed the Oscars. But I hope we can also talk about how Will’s life and career doesn’t deserve to be defined by that one moment?


    What Will did was wrong but for me it doesn’t define him. I appreciate him taking time he had to process this and respect him all the more for it. Chris not wanting to talk to Will about is okay too maybe the stand up he’s doing is part of HIS process but (I doubt it but who am I?) Who knows. I think Chris needs to add the ways he’s disrespectful to black women and to Jada over several years.

    I like Will and support him.

  13. Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

    If this is what Will Smith felt he needed to do, then so be it, but it still bothers me that he’s apologizing so profusely for defending his Black wife. Chris Rock is not a victim and there are truly violent and dangerous men still in the Academy. Will Smith is very much loved and respected by his peers and colleagues, and I hope he feels that.

  14. Drusilla says:

    I can’t believe this is still news. I thought it was a publicity stunt because no one watches the Oscars anymore. I guess I’m the only one who thinks this.

  15. Sara says:

    The Fall Out was outsized, especially considering that no one knew what the eff was going on that night. EVERYONE overcompensated during the damage control. I’ll be honest: I was way more shocked that TWO people from Wild Wild West won Oscars that night.

  16. Emmi says:

    Well, I don’t think my opinion on the incident matters much. But this is, as the kids say, a bit cringe. I know the Smiths are all about one‘s journey and digging deep. Publicly. That’s fine. But this seems unnecessary. It’s been months. Apologize to whomever you feel you need to apologize in private and call it a day?

  17. LLCool Jane says:

    I appreciate that Will Smith is making an effort to apologize to Chris Rock. I like them both. They are both National Treasures IMO. That night and ever since Chris Rock has been a consummate professional. That night Will Smith acted with impulsive, reckless, out of control and life changing violence, laughing one second but charging the stage to assault Rock AFTER he saw Jada rolling her eyes. We all saw that dynamic. Incredibly, he then went on to accept his Academy award and to party later that night – and all of this with little apparent awareness of the magnitude of his behaviors. He says he was in a fog. Nope. He’s a grown man with a sense of entitlement who has learned to be sorry ONLY because of the consequences. He appears to be learning humility but it’s hard to say for sure. There are layers to this that we will never know. Yes his history with his father is playing out here but again he’s a grown man and should have dealt with this long ago. None of us should be defined by our worst moments as long as we do the work to not repeat them. He should not live in shame. But he has a lot of work to do on himself and is not done by a very long shot.

    • Sasha says:

      I’m sorry – LIFE CHANGING violence? Are you kidding me? He didn’t strike a woman, or a child. He didn’t beat Chris up. There’s no excuse for violence but let’s also not pretend like there isn’t a SCALE – shoving someone is different to stamping on someone’s head. A slap is a slap. Is it acceptable? No. But let’s not be ridiculous and act like Will beat the living crap out of Rock on stage. Jesus Christ the dramatics following the incident is insane.

  18. nemo says:

    I dunno, I STILL find Chris Rock’s “joke” alot more offensive than Will’s slap. It wasn’t just a dig at Jada, it was albeist BS.

    • Fabiola says:

      So you would rather have someone slap you then make a stupid joke about you?

      • nemo says:

        Again, it wasn’t “just a stupid joke” and it wasn’t only directed ay Jada. It was just as violent as that slap. The only thing that’s “stupid” here is your question.

  19. Rapunzel says:

    Eh, Rock’s been joking that anyone who says words hurt has never been slapped. That shows me he’s just one of those
    a-holes who thinks people need thicker skin and he isn’t interested in conversation on this because he’s unwilling to admit anything he did was inappropriate. No sympathy from me.
    His joke was wrong. Will’s reaction was wrong. But I only see one person admitting any culpability.

    Also, the stupid folks who acted and are still acting like this was the worst violence ever can get bent. Half the folks crying about Will’s violence are alright with kids doing shooter drills at school and they think kids should live with the fear of school shootings to protect the 2A. Miss me with that “won’t someone please think of the children” outrage over Will’s behavior.

  20. Carrie says:

    Can’t help but think if someone like Sean Penn (i.e. older, white, male star with a reputation) had done this, no one would care very much. He’d grumble some half-hearted apology (which in reality would be an excuse) and everyone would move on?

    • Fabiola says:

      Sean Penn would get it worse if he slapped someone since he is not a beloved actor like Will Smith. Both are actors but they have different reputations. Will is the more clean cut good guy actor while Sean Penn is the exact opposite in the public’s eye. It is easier to forgive Will Smith.

  21. Jessica says:

    My son plays hockey. It can get..intense…

    If a parent behaved this way..or a child…it would be out of the rink..do not pass go.

    This is just not ok for me. You cannot punch someone..anyone..much less in a public forum and act like it didn’t happen.
    Or play the victim.

    Think of the 9 or 10 year olds watching this (mine) and thinking..this is how we handle a bully. No. Just no.

    I also think there is some weirdness with jada..not my business but…her reactions in the initial videos say a lot..

    I hope everyone gets some peace and moves on…

  22. Sasha says:

    I don’t care what anyone says. I’m 100% team Will. He’s taken complete responsibility and people make mistakes. Violence is always wrong, completely, but he didn’t take an eye out or draw blood. And he’s been incredibly sensitive and respectful about the whole incident ever since. Give the man a break please!

  23. Mila says:

    All I gotta say is … suge smith. LMAO.

  24. Kim says:

    If you have read Will’s book that came out before “The Slap,” you may agree with me that his apology seemed authentic and pretty true to who he is as a person. Although he comes off as a silly/funny person in general, in his book he very openly admits his struggles and insecurities. The audio version of the book is awesome!

  25. wAZExFA7aJ says:

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