Plus, a look at other kinds of disciplinary action the Academy has taken in the past.
Will Smith won’t be anywhere near the Academy Awards stage until at least 2032.
After closed-door meetings to consider the actor’s fate, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced Friday that he would officially banned from the group’s events for a decade as punishment for slapping Chris Rock on stage at the 94th annual ceremony on March 27.
“The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement.
Smith had a brief and to-the-point response: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” he said.
The Academy also formally apologized for failing to “adequately address the situation in the room” on Oscar night. Following the slap, Smith was allowed to not only stay on the premises but also to accept the Best Actor award mere minutes later, drawing heavy criticism from observers who felt he should have been ejected immediately.
The ban from Academy events isn’t the only consequence Smith is facing for his actions. Several of his upcoming projects have been put on hold, and Smith already made his own decision on April 1 to officially resign from the Academy — which came amid speculation that he may have been expelled otherwise.
In an official statement, Smith explained his decision this way:
“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.”
How does what’s happened to Smith compare to previous punishments doled out by the Academy? We took a closer look at the relevant history.
Has the Academy ever taken someone’s Oscar away?
After the dizzying evening during which Smith slapped Rock and then won Best Actor for his role in the biopic King Richard, many speculated that Smith could lose the award as punishment. That doesn’t seem to be on the table at this point — and there’s not much of a precedent for it, either.
According to The Wrap, only one Oscar has ever been rescinded after being awarded, and it was actually for a technicality: In 1969, the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature was given to Young Americans, then taken away after it was revealed that the documentary was exhibited publicly starting in 1967. Only films shown in 1968 were eligible for the 1969 Oscars, and so the award was given to the documentary with the second-most votes, Journey into Self.
Has the Academy ever expelled someone from membership?
Only five people are publicly known to have been expelled from the Academy in its 94-year history.
The first person to be expelled from the Academy was Carmine Caridi, an actor in The Godfather. Caridi was expelled in 2004 for sharing screeners of a film to someone who was not in the Academy. In 2017, the 83-year-old actor spoke to Hollywood Reporter about being the first person to be expelled.
“Let me tell you something,” Caridi said. “Everybody does it, OK? I was doing a guy a favor and he screwed me.”
The next person to receive an expulsion from the Academy was Harvey Weinstein in 2018, following the explosive and credible allegations of sexual assault made against him by over 30 women in 2017.
Later that year, the Academy expelled two more industry icons, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski. The announcement came a month after Cosby was convicted of sexual assault, and after Polanski admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
The fifth and most recent person to be permanently expelled from the Academy was cinematographer Adam Kimmel in 2021, after Variety ran a story revealing Kimmel’s legal status as a sex offender.
So what does it mean to lose membership to the Academy? According to Quartz, it means that the person can no longer vote on future awards shows, can never be nominated for another Oscar, and can never attend another Oscars ceremony.
How does the Academy decide whether or not to expel a member?
In 2017, following the rise of the #MeToo Movement and the public response to the allegations against Weinstein, the Academy publicly released its new standards of conduct for all members.
The statement read, “There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”
The Academy further confirmed that any members who violate the code of conduct would be subject to disciplinary action, “including suspension or expulsion.” However, there are no explicit or public guidelines for what type of behavior will warrant what type of disciplinary action, which is why there’s so much confusion and speculation over such an unprecedented event as what happened between Rock and Smith on Sunday.
Smith’s slap draws wider condemnation
In a blog post titled “Will Smith Did A Bad, Bad Thing,” former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the incident “did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face.”
“With a single petulant blow, (Smith) advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
Though he noted that Smith had come across as charming and sincere on the occasions they’d met, Abdul-Jabbar is concerned about the potential bad press his behavior might garner for the Black community more widely.
“One of the main talking points from those supporting the systemic racism in America is characterizing Blacks as more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions,” the 74-year-old wrote. “Smith just gave comfort to the enemy by providing them with the perfect optics they were dreaming of. Many will be reinvigorated to continue their campaign to marginalize African Americans and others through voter suppression campaign.”