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Will Smith in tears at The Academy Awards as Venus and Serena Williams watch

Will Smith in tears at The Academy Awards

Will Smith in tears at The Academy Awards as Venus and Serena Williams watch

Will Smith was awarded the 2022 Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday for his depiction of Serena and Venus Williams’ father Richard Williams in King Richard, a critically-applauded film based on his life.

The win marked Will Smith’s first Oscar win in his 3rd nomination, surpassing Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick… Boom!), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth).

Addressing the distinguished audience on stage after collecting his award, the 53-year-old delivered an emotionally-charged speech while struggling to keep his emotions at bay. Calling Richard Williams as a “fierce defender” of his family, Smith commented that he was called on to do the same for the girls who played Venus and Serena Williams, as well as Aunjanue Ellis, who played their mother Oracene Price.

The actor also added that he believed it his higher-calling to defend the people he loved, which he considered he had done to the best of his ability. On the verge of tears, Will Smith also pontificated about how it was important to endure and ignore abuse as an actor and to keep a smile on one’s face despite the deliberate contempt and mockery.

“It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine light on all the cast of King Richard and Venus and Serena Williams”

Will Smith

Will Smith’s statement about the need to tolerate insults as an actor had something to do with the fact that he had earlier gotten into an confrontation with comedian Chris Rock.

Taking offense to a very unpleasant joke Rock made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor marched on to the stage and landed a crisp slap on his face. Smith went on to repetitively demand that Rock keep his mouth shut about any remarks relating to his wife.

The 53-year-old apologized to everybody for his temporary loss of control, adding that he did not mean to deviate from the “beautiful moment” of King Richard winning an Academy Award. Will Smith used the occasion to highlight the significance of the entire cast and crew of the movie, as well as Venus Williams and Serena Williams, who were executive producers on the film.

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Nirmal Sawlani

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