Will Smith makes first awards speech since Chris Rock Oscars slap

Will Smith issues apology to Chris Rock

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Will Smith, 54, took to the stage last night to accept the Beacon Award at the 14th annual African American Films Critics Association Awards (AAFCA). This comes nearly one year after the actor slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars, while reports have also come in that the comedian’s new Netflix show will address what happened.

Will was joined on stage by Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua, who gave a brief speech before Will took to the stage.

He said: “I want to thank Gil and AAFCA. I want to thank all of you in this room for doing what you do and keeping our stories alive.

“I want to thank Apple because the budget was one thing. And then the budget was another thing. And then the budget was another thing. And Apple never flinched.

“It was the first time I had heard from a studio that the story was more important than how much it costs to get it done… They make iPhones. They can do it.”

Before the speech, Will met on the red carpet with Deadline and told the publication how happy he was to be back.

He also shared that he is working on the fourth version of his Bad Boys franchise, as he said: “It’s just like going back, and it’s a different vibe. I’m so happy to be back with the same people.”

This comes as it has been reported that Chris has opened up about the infamous Oscars slap he received from Will in workshop material for his live Netflix special.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Chris talked about the incident, referencing their roles in the 1991 movie New Jack City and Will’s in 2001’s Ali.

He said: “The thing people want to know… did it hurt? Hell yeah, it hurt.

“He played Muhammad Ali! I played Pookie!”

Chris added, according to The Sun: “Even in animated movies, I’m a zebra, he’s a f***ing shark.”

The star then supposedly referenced one of Will’s rap tracks, saying: “I got hit so hard I heard Summertime ringing in my ears.”

The Netflix special will air on Saturday, a week ahead of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

The infamous Oscars scene between Chris and Will took place after the comedian made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.

He jibed: “Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it!”

The reference was to the 1997 film which featured Demi Moore with a shaved head.

Jada, 51, was diagnosed with alopecia, which causes hair loss, with the situation visibly upsetting Will.

He then walked onstage and smacked Chris, before returning to his seat repeating: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”

Later in the evening, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Will apologised to the Academy and other nominees but made no reference to the funny man.

The Hitch actor subsequently apologised on multiple occasions and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ahead of being issued a 10-year ban from the Oscars.

Will went silent for months before breaking his silence in July with an online clip, admitting his spouse had “nothing to do with” his attack.

He said: “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris.

“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out.

“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologise to you. My behaviour was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

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