Wanda Sykes Has Thoughts on Academy Letting Will Smith Stay After Chris Rock Slap

Wanda Sykes feels that "it was gross" that Will Smith wasn't removed from the Oscars after his outburst on Sunday night. Sykes co-hosted the Oscars 2022 with Regina Hall and Amy Schumer, and she reflected on the whole experience on Wednesday in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. She called out the producers who chose not to have Smith removed from the theater.

"For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award... I was like, 'How gross is this?'" Sykes reflected. "This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building, and that's it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross." Sykes even joked that she had considered how to play off Smith's absence when he got the Best Actor award a while later. She said: "I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say 'Unfortuniately, Will couldn't be here tonight...'"

Sykes is of course referring to Smith storming the stage to slap Chris Rock who had just made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. She said: "I just felt so awful for my friend Chris. It was sickening. I physically felt ill and I'm still a little traumatized by it." Her comments echo those of her fellow co-host Schumer, who made a controversial Instagram post on Wednesday.

"But for real. Still triggered and traumatized," Schumer wrote, though her post has now been deleted. "I love my friend [Chris Rock] Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend [Questlove] and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in [Will Smith] anyway I'm still in shock and stunned and sad. I'm proud of myself and my cohosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed."

There are many different angles to consider in this story, but the most important one seems to be the Smith family's recent string of scandals. In 2020, singer August Alsina claimed that he had had an affair with Pinkett Smith in 2016 with Will Smith's permission. At the time, Pinkett Smith said that "permission" was not accurate, and that she and Smith had actually been privately separated at that time. However, Smith later told GQ that he and Pinkett Smith had an open relationship that allowed for extramarital sexual experiences at times.

Many fans on social media are speculating that Smith's outburst had something to do with the gossip, rumors and jokes surrounding his family's strange publicity in recent years. Many agree with Sykes that Smith should have been escorted out of the theater, while others feel that the moment was awkward but is ultimately being blown out of proportion. Smith has issued a public apology and so far, Rock has not commented publicly.