Will Smith picked up another accolade for his King Richard performance three months after being banned from attending the Academy Awards for a decade because of his outburst at this year’s ceremony.
At Sunday’s BET Awards, Will Smith, 53, won best actor for the sports drama, which also won best movie, though he did not attend the awards show to accept the win in person.
The other actors in the category (which also includes television performances) were Adrian Holmes and Jabari Banks for Bel Air, Anthony Anderson for Black-ish, Damson Idris for Snowfall, Denzel Washington for The Tragedy of Macbeth, Forest Whitaker for Respect and Godfather of Harlem, and Sterling K. Brown for This Is Us.
Smith also previously won a BAFTA Award, Golden Globe, NAACP Image Award, SAG Award, Critics Choice Award and the Oscar for King Richard, in which he plays tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams.
His big Oscar win became overshadowed when, moments before in the March 27 ceremony, Smith walked onstage and struck Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Jada lives with alopecia, and Smith explained in a statement days later that the punch line was “too much for me to bear” and he “reacted emotionally.”
“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, later resigning from the Academy, which then banned him from attending their ceremonies for the next 10 years.
In his statement about resigning, Smith said, “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.”
In the weeks since the Oscars, Rock, 57, has made brief jokes at standup performances referencing the moment, but he hasn’t yet spoken about it in length. He has said he’ll “talk about it at some point” eventually.
He concluded at the time, “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Pinkett Smith, 50, addressed the incident on a recent episode of her Red Table Talk show, saying, “About Oscar night: My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile. With the state of the world today, we need ’em both, and we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years — and that’s [to] keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening.”