Jada Pinkett Smith called for a “season for healing” in her first social media post since her husband, Will Smith, stunned Sunday night’s Academy Awards audience by slapping comedian Chris Rock after a joke about her hair.
Rock’s joke about Pinkett Smith — calling her “G.I. Jane 2” in an apparent reference to her shaved head — prompted Smith to leave his seat next to her, stride onstage and slap Rock across the face on live television.
Pinkett Smith, who could be seen rolling her eyes in response to the joke with her hands clasped firmly in her lap, has spoken publicly about her alopecia diagnosis on several occasions, documenting her experience with the medical condition that causes hair loss on her Instagram account.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f---ing mouth,” Smith yelled out twice in the direction of Rock after returning to his seat. “Wow, dude! It was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke!” Rock replied in disbelief. It’s unclear whether Rock knew about her condition, and he has not yet publicly commented about the incident.
The academy said it had begun a formal investigation into the incident and would “explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Will Smith, in his apology to Rock on Monday, said, “I was out of line and I was wrong.” The actor admitted he is “a work in progress” and said he had “reacted emotionally” when his wife’s medical condition was joked about.
In a video posted late last year, Pinkett Smith showed her Instagram followers a line that had appeared on her scalp, saying, “Y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia.” She went on to outline some of the challenges the condition presents but appeared in good spirits, saying: “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”
Others raised concerns over the public display of violence at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, which was watched by more than 15 million viewers, according to a report issued by ABC. Following the incident, the academy said it “does not condone violence of any form.”
About 40 minutes after slapping Rock, Smith took to the stage again to receive his award for best actor in the biopic “King Richard,” in which he played Richard Williams — the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
During his acceptance speech, Smith cried and apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees for the slap, although he did not reference Rock by name.
Some people with alopecia have said they are ditching wigs and embracing their baldness in solidarity with Pinkett Smith.
“The positive thing from this awful incident is that so many more people know about alopecia,” Laura Mathias, 30, of Britain, where at least 65,000 people are thought to have the condition, told the BBC.
Mathias said she had found new confidence to leave the house without wearing a wig since Sunday’s ceremony.
The condition affects as many as 6.8 million people in the United States, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.