March 25, 2023


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Will Smith won the first award since the Chris Rock slap at the Oscars

2 min read

Will Smith won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his performance in “Deliverance” on Saturday night, marking his first award win since his infamous incident at the 2022 Oscars in which he slapped Chris Rock on stage.

Smith was not present at the award ceremony in person.

Set in 19th-century Louisiana, Smith portrays a runaway slave who embarks on a treacherous journey to Baton Rouge while thwarting violent plantation owners. “Emancipation” was inspired by an 1863 photograph known as “Whipped Peter,” which depicts a once-enslaved man with a severe back injury. The circulation of the film brought the brutality of slavery before the eyes of the American public.

After initially delaying the “release” following Smith’s incident at the Oscars, Apple TV+ moved the historical drama as an awards season contender, releasing the film in October. Smith, who doubled as the film’s producer, is set to accept the Beacon Award from the African-American Film Critics Association alongside director Antoine Foucault on March 1 for their work on the film. The film also received nominations in two categories at the Black Reel Awards.

Smith’s win comes nearly a year after the controversial 2022 Oscars, in which the actor slapped the Rock after an offhand joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Shortly after, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard”. As a result of the controversy, Smith was banned from all Academy-sponsored events for the next decade.

Daniel Kaluuya (“No”), Jonathan Majors (“Devotion”), Joshua Boone (“A Jazzman’s Blues”) and Sterling K. Brown (“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”) was competing in a motion picture category at the NAACP Image Awards.

A four-day virtual awards presentation led up to the February 25 NAACP Image Awards, which were held in person for the first time since February 2020. Live from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Queen Latifah hosted the 54th annual awards show, which crowned winners in this year’s motion picture and television categories. See the full list of winners.

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