Oscars 2023: Who Replaced Will Smith as Best Actress Presenter?
The 95th Academy Awards had to break a long-standing tradition. Although a typical year would see the previous year's acting Oscar winners returning to the stage to present the current year's acting Oscar winners, Sunday night's ceremony looked a little different after Will Smith, who won Best Actor for his role in King Richard at the 2022 awards, was absent from the show. Smith had been set to present this year's Best Actress category, though he was prevented from doing so after he was banned from the awards after he slapped Chris Rock during the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony. Smith was the only 2022 acting Oscar winner not to present a category in 2023. In his place, Halle Berry, who previously won Best Actress for her role in 2001's Monster's Ball, presented the award.
Berry took the stage alongside Jessica Chastain to jointly present the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. The Best Actress award went to Michelle Yeoh for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Yeoh was nominated in the category alongside Cate Blanchett for Tár, Ana de Armas for Blonde, Andrea Riseborough for To Leslie, and Michelle Williams for The Fablemans.
Sunday's change-up came after Smith was banned from the Oscars for the next decade after he physically assaulted Rock on stage after the presenter made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. Rock had been presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature when he made a joke about Pinkett Smith looking like "G.I. Jane" amid her alopecia diagnosis. In the immediate aftermath, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which in April 2022 announced that the actor was banned from attending its events for 10 years.
"The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage," the AMPAS Board said in a letter, adding that they did not "adequately address the situation in the room" during the telecast. "For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short – unprepared for the unprecedented."
Sunday's ceremony came just days after Rock addressed the 2022 Oscars slap in his live Netflix comedy special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, quipping, "anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face." Later in the show, Rock said he's "not a victim, baby; you'll never see me on Oprah or Gayle, crying. You will never see it. Never gonna happen," adding, "I got smacked at the f-ing Oscars by this m-f-er. And people are like, 'Did it hurt?' It still hurts!"