Janet Yang, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said Will Smith is welcome to get an engraved nameplate added to his best actor Oscar statuette, despite being banned from Academy events for a decade after slapping Chris Rock during last year’s ceremony.
Last month, Smith duetted a video on TikTok that instructed viewers to pick up an object and ask it what it thinks of yourself. A woman in the initial video claimed, “you will get an answer in your mind from your intuition.”
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Smith proceeded to hold up his Oscar statuette, which he won for his performance in King Richard, clearly showing that the award had not been engraved.
Typically, Oscar winners attend the Governors Ball following the ceremony and there they will get their nameplate added to the trophy. But Smith never made it over to the ball last year — after slapping Rock onstage during the awards show — and has since been banned from attending the Oscars and Academy events for the next 10 years.
During the latest episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Yang told THR‘s Scott Feinberg that she thinks Smith should have his name engraved on the Oscar when asked what she would say if the actor reached out for his nameplate.
“He earned the Oscar,” she continued, in the interview published a day before the 95th Oscars. “He should have his name engraved on it. I don’t know if he should personally come. But yeah, we can arrange.”
When explaining what went through her head while witnessing the actor’s smackdown of the comedian, Yang said, “Truly, we were numb.”
“Like everyone else, in the beginning when Will walks onto stage, we’re like, ‘Oh, this is a funny bit. He is going to pretend he slaps him, and then Chris is going to act stunned,’” she added. “And then it was like, ‘Ok, well that’s over.’ And then he goes back to his seat and then he starts shouting — that’s when, of course, everyone said, ‘Oh my God, this is real.’”
Yang said that before she and Academy CEO Bill Kramer came on board, Rock was apparently asked about hosting again and he declined. Rock addressed the slapping incident last week during his new comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, which was streamed live on Netflix.