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Was Will Smith Invited to the Oscars? His Status With the Academy, Explained

Everything you need to know about the consequences of "The Slap."

It's a moment that immediately became an unforgettable part of Oscars history. At the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock as the comedian was presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature on stage after he made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The exchange was undeniably shocking and occurred just before Smith would take to the stage again to accept the award for Best Actor for his role in King Richard. In one night, the actor received his first Oscar and also got himself banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Because of his ban, Smith will not be attending the Oscars again for quite some time—if ever. Read on to find out for how long the actor is banned from the Academy and to learn what happens if he gets nominated for another Oscar during the duration of his ban.

RELATED: 12 Oscar-Winning Movies That Are Offensive by Today's Standards.

Why was Will Smith banned from the Academy Awards?

Chris Rock and Will Smith on stage at the 2022 Oscars
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Obviously, Smith was banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for slapping Rock, but the organization shared a more detailed explanation, and the star resigned from the Academy prior to the ban being announced. Before he resigned, the Academy had announced that it was investigating the altercation and that suspension or expulsion were possible consequences.

In a statement shared with CNN on April 1, 2022, Smith called his actions at the awards show "shocking, painful, and inexcusable" and apologized to Rock, Rock's family, his own loved ones, and audiences watching the show.

"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," Smith said. "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."

The Academy accepted Smith's resignation but also moved forward with "disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct."

A week later, the Academy announced that a decision had been made to ban Smith from all Academy events, including the Oscars. As reported by Variety, the Independence Day star responded, "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."

How long is Will Smith banned from the Oscars?

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2022 Oscars
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The Academy banned Smith for 10 years.

A statement from the organization reads (via Variety), "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." The statement explains that the decision was made as "a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy."

After 10 years, Smith will be allowed to attend events again. But it remains to be seen whether he'll ever rejoin the Academy.

RELATED: 6 Old Hollywood Movies You Can't Watch Anywhere Now.

What happens if Will Smith gets nominated for an Oscar?

Will Smith accepting his Oscar the 2022 Academy Awards
Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Even though he is not allowed to attend the Academy Awards, Smith can still be nominated for an Oscar—and win, if Academy members vote for him. That said, he would not be able to accept the award during the ceremony, because an exception would not be made for this reason.

Entertainment expert Dave Karger told People of the ban, "Will Smith's punishment is not as severe as a lifetime ban from the Oscar ceremony but it's still a steep price for him to pay. He is still eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award, as is anyone who works on a project he stars in. But, I highly doubt he will hear his name called as a nominee in the near future."

In addition to winning the Best Actor award for King Richard, Smith has been nominated for three other Oscars. Also in 2022, he was nominated for Best Picture as a producer of King Richard. In 2002, he was nominated for Best Actor for Ali, and in 2007, he was nominated for Best Actor for The Pursuit of Happyness.

Will Jada Pinkett Smith be attending the Oscars?

Pinkett Smith found herself at the center of the Oscars slap scandal, even though she was not directly involved in the altercation. While presenting the award of Best Documentary Feature, Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith's bald head, saying that she looked like she was filming a sequel to the 1997 movie G.I. Jane. Smith took offense to this because Pinkett Smith has alopecia. For this reason, he slapped Rock and yelled, "Keep my wife's name out your [expletive] mouth!"

Pinkett Smith has said that she initially thought that the slap was part of a pre-planned skit between Smith and Rock. She has also opened up about past tensions with Rock across their many years of knowing one another. He notably also made fun of her at the 2016 Oscars, which she skipped along with others because no non-white actors were nominated. "Jada's going to boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties," Rock joked while hosting the show. "I wasn't invited!"

The Girls Trip star added another surprising bit of context to the slap story when she revealed in October 2023 that she and Smith had actually been separated since 2016, although they don't intend to divorce. In fact, she told Extra that the Oscars incident confirmed that she will stick by Smith.

"That was the moment that I knew I would never leave Will's side," she said. "After all those years of thinking that I would … The Oscar night and having to go through such an emotional crisis in that way, immediately, I knew I would never leave Will's side no matter what. And I didn't go in there as his wife, but I was leaving as his wife. So, it showed me that love can conquer all."

Based on that, it seems likely that Pinkett Smith will avoid the Oscars out of support for Smith—or perhaps because of the attention attending would bring—although, of course, she is allowed to go to the awards show. In the future, she could be invited due to involvement in a nominated movie or as a presenter or guest.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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