Will Smith Just Won a Major Award Just 11 Months After Oscars Slap

Will Smith just won a major award, which comes 11 months after his Oscars slap controversy. On Saturday, Smith was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, for his performance in the Apple TV+ film Emancipation. Notably, the actor was not present to accept the award.

In an official synopsis of Emancipation, Apple TV+ explain that it "tells the triumphant story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of 'Whipped Peter,' taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper's Weekly. One image, known as 'The Scourged Back,' which shows Peter's bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery."

In 2022, during the Academy Awards telecast, Smith took issue with a G.I. Jane joke that host Chris Rock made about the Independence Day star's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. After leaving his seat, Smith approached Rock on the stage, and hit him with a hard open-hand slap. Upon returning to his seat, Smith yelled to Rock, "Keep my wife's name out of your f—ing mouth."

Following the violent outburst, Smith took to social media to issue an apology. "Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally," he wrote on Instagram, insinuating that the joke was specifically bout Pinkett-Smith's alopecia condition. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

Smith added, "Violence in all forms is poisonous and destructive." The actor also apologized to "the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world," as well as Venus and Serena Williams and their families, as it was his role in the biopic King Richard about them and their father that landed him an Oscar. "I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us," Smith concluded. "I am a work in progress."