Oscar co-hosts react to the Slap

(Courtesy Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. CREDIT: Michael Baker / A.M.P.A.S.)

On Sunday, March 27, 2022, the 94th Academy Award ceremony was marred by an altercation between nominee and now Oscar winner Will Smith and presenter Chris Rock.

The comedian inexplicably went off script and made an insensitive crack about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith and her shaved head. Pinkett Smith is especially sensitive about the subject and in 2018 she shared that she suffers from an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata which causes patchy baldness and clumps of hair to fall out.

Once Smith realized that Rock crossed a line and hurt his wife’s feelings, he walked up onto the stage and shocked the world by slapping Rock loudly with an open palm before returning to his seat and shouting expletives at the comedian. 

The event was co-hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes, making history as it was the first time the ceremony was hosted by three women. The incident between Smith and Rock shocked both viewers at home, as well as those in attendance at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. Both Sykes and Schumer have weighed in on the subject. 

58-year-old Sykes said in a simple statement to PEOPLE Monday night, “Violence is never the answer.”

On Wednesday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Sykes shared how the incident played out from her perspective and spoke more in depth about the subject. She told DeGeneres that she “felt so awful for my friend Chris” when she heard about it backstage.

Sykes also spoke about the incident and said, “It was sickening. It was absolutely— I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatized by it. And for them to let [Will] stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this?’ This sends the wrong message. If you assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that’s it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross.”

She went on to detail, “I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this, but I saw Chris at (Guy Oseary’s after party) and as soon as I walked up to him, the first thing he said is, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I was like, ‘Why are you apologizing?’ He was like, ‘It was supposed to be your night. You and Amy and Regina were doing such a great job. I’m so sorry this is now gonna be about this.’ “

“Because that’s who Chris is,” added Sykes.

The clip can be seen here:

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Amy Schumer also claims to be traumatized from the incident. In a now-deleted Instagram post, Schumer said, “I think we can all agree that the best way to unpack what happened is to stream my series @lifeandbethhulu and see me on tour this fall,” she joked, but then continued, “But for real. Still triggered and traumatized. I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro. Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend @questlove and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in @willsmith anyway I’m still in shock and stunned and sad. I’m proud of myself and my cohosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.”

The post she made immediately after the Awards show is still up on her account and she said, “I think we are all gonna be processing tonight for a while. But I love my dress…”

Perhaps she didn’t allow herself enough time to process before sharing her thoughts and she chose to delete her initial reaction before taking more time to write a more eloquent statement. We will continue to monitor her socials for an update. 

Regina Hall has yet to make a statement about the incident. 

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