Wanda Sykes Speaks on Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock: ‘It Was Sickening’
Wanda Sykes has spoken out about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on the Academy Awards stage on Sunday night, saying she felt "physically ill" after watching the video.
During an appearance on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' Sykes spoke about the shocking events of the evening. She made her hosting debut this year alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
“For something to happen like that, it takes away from so many things. It took away from Questlove’s win,” said DeGeneres in a preview clip from Wednesday’s show.
“Absolutely,” Sykes agrees.
Sykes said she was returning from her trailer to the auditorium as the slap was taking place, and when she got inside, she asked, “What is happening?” and then watched the video replay.
“I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris. It was sickening. I physically felt ill. I’m still a little traumatized by it,” Sykes said.
“No one has apologized to us,” she continued, despite Smith’s apology to Rock.
“We worked really hard to put that show together — so I’m like, what the hell is this?,” Sykes said.
Sykes continued that Rock apologized to her when he saw her at a party that night. “I’m so sorry!” he said.
Why are YOU apologizing,” she asked? “Because it was supposed to be your night, you and Amy and Regina. And this is now going to be about this.”
Smith stunned the Dolby Theater audience and TV viewers at home when he marched onto the stage and slapped Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head (the actress has spoken publicly about her alopecia diagnosis). When he returned to his seat, the “King Richard” star yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
His subsequent acceptance speech for best actor apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, saying he wanted to be a "vessel of love." Smith won the Oscar for his role as Serena and Venus Williams' father Richard Williams in the Warner Bros. drama.
Smith and his family celebrated his win at the Vanity Fair party that night, where he hit the dance floor to sing along to some of his greatest hits.
The next day, Smith apologized to Rock in an Instagram post. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote. “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.”
Jada then posted a simple message on Instagram, writing “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.”
Rock has not publicly addressed the incident. The Academy's board of governors will meet on Wednesday to review the issue. They announced that they are investigating the matter.
Sykes spoke to Variety just days before the big show. At the time, she said she did not intend to roast anyone. “I don’t want people to be nervous and be like, ‘Oh, my God, what is she going to say?’ I don’t want to create that type of environment,” Sykes said. “I want people to relax. We’re going to have fun.”