Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes isn’t concealing her thoughts about that stunning slap, which threatened to derail the 94th Academy Awards’ third act. “I physically felt ill and I’m still traumatized by it,” she told Ellen DeGeneres in a clip from an Ellen DeGeneres Show appearance. In fact, Sykes said she’s awaiting an apology from Will Smith, who smacked presenter Chris Rock onstage after a crude joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
During the slap itself, Sykes was mid-wardrobe change, she explained. By the time she’d gotten back to the monitor, Smith was cursing at Rock from his seat. “I just was like, ‘Is this really happening?’ And then someone showed me on the video like, ‘Yeah, he smacked Chris,’” Sykes told DeGeneres. “And I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris. And it was sickening, absolutely.”
Smith accepted his best-actor Oscar minutes after the incident, a decision Sykes called “gross,” adding, “This is the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building, and that’s it.” If the Academy had booted him from the ceremony, Sykes continued, “I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say, ‘Uh, unfortunately, Will couldn’t be here tonight,’” Sykes said.
The Academy has begun formally reviewing the episode, and Smith already apologized to Rock in a Monday Instagram post. But Sykes, who cohosted the awards with Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, says that she and her cohort are still awaiting amends. “I know he apologized to Chris, but I believe that we were the hosts. This is our house. We’re inviting you in, we’re gonna take care of y’all tonight, make sure you have a good time,” Sykes explained. “And no one has apologized to us. And we worked really hard to put that show together. The industry itself, I’m like, ‘What the hell is this? This is wrong.’”
The comic said that she has received an apology from Rock, whom she bumped into at an Oscars after-party. “As soon as I walked up to him, the first thing he said was, ‘I’m so sorry,’” Sykes recalled. “And I’m like, ‘Why are you apologizing?’ and he’s like, ‘It was supposed to be your night. You and Amy and Regina, y’all were doing such a great job. I’m so sorry this is now going to be about this.’” She added, “Because that’s who Chris is.”
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