Janet Yang, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said Will Smith is welcome to have an engraved nameplate put to his best actor Oscar statuette after being barred from Academy events for a decade after slapping Chris Rock during last year’s ceremony.
Smith collaborated on a TikTok video last month that directed viewers to pick up an object and ask it what it thought of themselves. In the first video, a woman stated, “you will get an answer in your mind from your intuition.”
Smith then held out his Oscar statuette, which he earned for his performance in King Richard, showing that it had not been engraved.
Following the ceremony, Oscar winners often attend the Governors Ball, when their nameplate is added to the trophy. Smith, on the other hand, was barred from attending the Oscars and Academy functions for the next ten years after hitting Rock onstage during the awards show last year.
When asked what she would say if Smith grabbed for his nameplate on the latest episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Yang told THR’s Scott Feinberg that she believes Smith should have his name engraved on the Oscar.
“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 it.”
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, at the beginning when Will walks onto the 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 claimed that before she and Academy CEO Bill Kramer teamed up, Rock was approached about hosting again, but he rejected. Rock addressed the slapping incident on his new Netflix comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, which aired live last week.