Wanda Sykes rips Oscars, Will Smith for Chris Rock slap and its ‘gross’ aftermath

2022 Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes didn’t hold back in her harsh criticism of both Will Smith and the academy itself while discussing Smith’s slap of Chris Rock with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday.

“I just felt so awful for my friend Chris,” Sykes told DeGeneres on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “It was sickening. I physically felt ill and I’m still a little traumatized by it.”

Sykes said beyond the physical violence of the altercation, she was also greatly distressed by the academy’s response to the incident. “For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award—I was like, ‘How gross is this?’” she said. “This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building and that’s it. For them to let him continue, I thought it was gross.”

Sykes is the latest Oscars co-host to speak out against Smith for his outburst. Earlier on Wednesday, Amy Schumer posted her thoughts about the slap on Instagram and said she was still “triggered and traumatized” by the incident. Fellow co-host Regina Hall has yet to publicly comment on the matter.

In the aftermath of the slap, Smith stayed inside the Dolby Theatre and later was awarded Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard.” In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees for the physical attack – but did not reference Rock himself. Following the ceremony, Smith attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party where he was photographed celebrating with his family. On Monday night, Smith released a formal apology, noting that Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance (the actress and Smith’s wife has alopecia and shaves her head as a result) was “too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.” Smith then apologized to Rock by name and added, “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

He continued, “I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees, and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my ‘King Richard’ Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”

Speaking to DeGeneres, Sykes said she was disappointed to have not also received an apology from Smith or the academy for the slap – as Smith’s actions overshadowed the hard work she and her hosts had put in on the show.

“We worked really hard to put that show together. Just the industry itself, I’m like, ‘What the hell is this?’ It’s wrong,” she said. 

Sykes added that when she ran into Rock at an Oscars afterparty – not the Vanity Fair soiree that Smith attended – the comedian apologized to her because “it was supposed to be your night… I’m so sorry, it is now going to be about this.”

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