Chris Rock’s mother addressed Will Smith’s controversial slap that occurred on stage at the 94th Academy Awards last month.
Rose Rock, a motivational speaker, author, and youth and family advocate, told local South Carolina news station WIS-TV her son is “still processing” the incident and shared her thoughts on the slap, lamenting that a 10-year Oscars ban is hardly punishment.
“When Will slapped Chris, he slapped all of us,” the Rock matriarch said. “But he really slapped me. When you hurt my child, you hurt me.” When asked what she would say to Smith about the altercation, Rose said, “I have no idea what I would say other than, ‘What in the world were you thinking?'”
Matt Baron/Shutterstock Chris Rock and his mother, Rose Rock
She continued, “Because you did a slap, but so many things could have happened. Chris could have stepped back and fallen. You really could have gotten taken out in handcuffs. You didn’t think. You reacted to your wife giving you the side-eye, and you went up, and you made her day because she was bowled over laughing when it happened.”
Rose said she thought the incident was scripted until Smith “started with the obscenities,” noting of the ban, “What does that mean? You don’t even go every year.” She doesn’t believe Smith should have his Oscar revoked, but noted every last deserves a more genuine apology, referencing Smith’s public Instagram mea culpa: “His people wrote up a piece and said, ‘I apologize to Chris Rock,’ but something like that is personal,” she said. “You reach out.”
Rob Latour/Shutterstock Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards
Smith slapped Rock after he joked about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head, comparing her to Demi Moore’s character in GI Jane. (Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that results in hair loss.) The Academy launched an investigation into the altercation soon after, with Smith ultimately resigning as a member on his own volition. The Academy board then ruled to ban Smith from Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including the Oscars, for a decade.
“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,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement obtained by EW. “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. 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.”
Smith said of the ruling in a statement to EW, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”