Will Smith delivered his first acceptance speech since the 2022 Oscars after accepting the Beacon Award at the African American Film Critics Assn on Wednesday. Awards. .
While taking credit for their film “Emancipation” alongside director Antoine Fuqua, Smith thanked everyone in the “room for keeping our stories alive.” The ceremony marked the actor’s first awards ceremony since the film academy banned him from the Oscars for 10 years for punching host Chris Rock onstage at the 94th Academy Awards, where Smith won the award for leading actor.
“In this room are people who really suffer for the art of bringing these stories to the screen and delivering them in a way that has emotional impact… and hopefully just the subtle ability to change a heart or a mind ,” Smith said Wednesday.
“I would especially like to thank my brother, Antoine Fuqua. He didn’t compromise with one shot, dog. His heart, his mind, his desire to tell this story to all of you and to the world – I was amazed at the effort he put me through to deliver this film.
Speaking, Smith considered “Emancipation” – based on the true story of an enslaved man who escaped a Louisiana plantation and embarked on a perilous journey to freedom – “the hardest movie of my entire career.” He also gave a glimpse of his experience filming the project, recalling a shocking moment when a cast member improvised a scene and spat on him without warning.
“It is very difficult to transport a modern mind to that period. It’s hard to imagine that level of inhumanity,” Smith said. “I was in a scene with one of the white actors, and… he said and spat in the middle of my chest. … If I had worn pearls, I certainly would have held them.
The “King Richard” and “I Am Legend” star shared that his first instinct was to get Fuqua involved — but he resisted the urge.
“I stopped and realized (my character) Peter couldn’t have called the director,” he continued. “So I sat there, and I took a deep breath, and we took two, and the actor felt the ad-lib had gone Good. … He does his thing and spits again in the middle of my chest. And I just held on to that moment. … It makes me cry now. There was a part of me that was thankful I was allowed Real to understand.
“And then I hear a voice in the distance: Antoine says, ‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit,'” he added as the audience burst into laughter. “And I knew God was real.”
Days before attending the AAFCA Awards, Smith also won the NAACP Image Award for Actor in a Motion Picture for “Emancipation.” While he wasn’t there to receive the honor in person, Smith expressed his gratitude in a statement posted on Instagram.
“WOW!! NAACP!! I am absolutely humbled by this!!” He wrote. “I am so proud of the work we put into this film. I want to thank the NAACP for honoring our film! … your entire organization – and the work you do throughout the year – is really important, so to be recognized by all of you – it means a lot.