Added new photos of Will Smith accepting The Beacon Award for “Emancipation” onstage during the 14th Annual AAFCA Awards at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel on March 01, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Will Smith is speaking at award ceremonies again. The 54-year-old actor attended the 14th annual African American Film Critics Association Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday night and took the podium to say a few words.
The speech marked the Oscar winner’s first in-person acceptance at an awards show since he slappedChris Rock onstage at the 2022 Academy Awards. Smith accepted the Beacon Award with Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua. His co-star, Charmaine Bingwa, and AAFCA cofounder Gil L. Robertson handed out the award. After a quick speech from Fuqua, Smith took the stage to say a few words.
“Emancipation was the most individual difficult film of my entire career,” Smith said. “It’s really difficult to transport a modern mind to that time period. It’s difficult to imagine that, that level of inhumanity.”
Smith then recalled being shockingly spat on by a white co-star while filming a scene, and how that impacted his understanding of the injustice of the slavery era. “It was the second day of shooting and 110 degrees,” he said. “I was in a scene with one of the white actors, and we had our lines, and the actor decided to ad-lib. So, we’re doing the scene. I did my line. He did his line. And then he ad-libbed and spit in the middle of my chest. If I had pearls on, I definitely would’ve clutched them. I wanted to say, ‘Antoineeeeee,’ but I stopped, and I realized that Peter couldn’t have called the director.”
He continued, “I sat there, and I took a deep breath, and we did take two, and the actor felt that the ad-lib had gone well. So, we do take two. I do my line. He does his line and spits in the middle of my chest again. I just held in that moment, and there was a part — it makes me teary right now — there was a part of me that was grateful that I got to really understand. And then, in the distance, I hear a voice, and Antoine says, ‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit.’ And in that moment, I knew that God was real.”
“I want to thank Gil and AAFCA. I want to thank all of you in this room for doing what you do, keeping our stories alive. I want to thank Apple, because the budget was one thing. And then the budget was another thing. And then the budget was another thing. And Apple never flinched,” he continued. “It was the first time I had heard from a studio that the story was more important than how much it costs to get it done… They make iPhones. They can do it.” Smith was noticeably absent at the NAACP Image Awards, where he won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Peter in Emancipation. He later posted a thank you on his Instagram.
Smith takes top actor prize for his role as Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard as he guides his daughters to tennis success
Will Smith has won the Oscar for best actor at the 94th Academy Awards, currently under way at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles.
Smith won the prize for his role as Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard, a biopic that outlined Williams’ role in the sisters’ stellar success. The film was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and stars Smith in the title role, alongside Aunjanue Ellis as his wife Brandy, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as Venus and Serena, and Jon Bernthal as tennis coach Rick Macci. Venus and Serena Williams acted as executive producers on the project.
Smith had already been responsible for the evening’s major drama after he appeared to hit presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada-Pinkett-Smith.
“Take my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” he yelled at Rock, twice. In the advert breaks, Smith could be seen wiping tears from his eyes and being comforted by others in the room.
Taking to the stage, Smith addressed the controversy with reference to the character he played in King Richard.
“Oh man,” he said. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.
“Making this film I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two actresses who played Venus and Serena.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. And I know we do what we do you and gotta be able to take abuse and have people talk crazy about you. In this business, people abuse you and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s ok.
“I wanna be a vessel for love, I wanna say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. I wanna be an ambassador for that kind of love and care and concern.
“I wanna apologise to the Academy and to all my fellow nominees. This is beautiful moment and I’m crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me it’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people, the entire cast and crew.”
Continuing to wipe away tears, Smith said: “Art imitates life! I looked like the crazy father, just like they said. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith finished by thanking his mother, who he said couldn’t attend as she was busy with her knitting cirlce. “Thank you for this moment,” he concluded. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
Smith has already won numerous awards for his role in the film, including best actor at the Bafta and Critics Choice awards, and best actor (drama) at the Golden Globes. At the Oscars, Smith has been successful at the third attempt, having been nominated twice before for best actor: for Ali in 2002 and The Pursuit of Happyness in 2007.
Will Smith has received his third and fourth Oscar nominations yesterday, earning his place on the Best Actor list for his role in King Richard, and sharing in the film’s Best Picture nomination with Tim White and Trevor White.
Smith produced the film and played Richard Williams, the father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, in a story charting the early days of their careers. His role in the movie has been a favorite with critics and guilds all season long. In addition to pending nominations from SAG, BAFTA, and Critics Choice, Smith has already claimed prizes from several critics groups. It is a long-overdue return to the Oscars spotlight for Smith, whose turn in Warner Bros.’ King Richard, written by Zach Baylin and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, has been recognized 15 years on from his last citation by the Motion Picture Academy.
THIS JOKA (2022) Role: Unknown Status: Completed
Smith invites a diverse lineup of up-and-coming, established, and legendary comedians to explore the nature of comedy and its unique ability to bring people together.
THE COUNCIL (2023) Role: Nicky Barnes Status: Pre-Production
The never-before told story of a crime syndicate consisting of seven African-American men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and early 80s focusing on Nicky Barnes, dubbed "Mr. Untouchable" by the New York Times.
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