Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Thu, 2 March 2023 at 5:57 am GMT
Will Smith has made his first in-person appearance at an awards show since his infamous slap at last year’s Oscars.
The US actor accepted the beacon award at the African American Film Critics Association Awards (AAFCA) on Wednesday night, for his work on the historical drama Emancipation.
Smith accepted the award in person and gave a speech about the process of making the film.
It comes almost exactly a year after Smith stormed the stage at the 94th Academy Awards and slapped Chris Rock over a joke the comedian made about his wife.
Moments later he returned to accept the best actor Oscar, and delivered a tearful speech, in which he spoke about the importance of protecting family.
He was later banned from all Academy events for the next 10 years.
At the AAFCA event on Wednesday he made no reference to the 2022 incident, but kept his remarks light-hearted, eliciting several laughs from the audience.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Emancipation was Smith’s first major big screen role since the incident.
Smith described how during filming, a fellow actor had “ad-libbed” part of a scene and spat on his chest several times.
“We did take two and the actor felt that the ad lib had gone well. So we do take two. I do my line,” he said.
“He does his line, and spits in the middle of my chest again… and in the distance, I hear a voice.
“And Antoine says, ‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit.’ And in that moment, I knew that God was real.”
Smith’s performance in the film, which sees him play a runaway slave named Peter, also earned him the prize for outstanding actor in a motion picture at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday.
The win marked Smith’s first piece of recognition since the Oscars incident, though he was not present to receive the award.