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Will Smith makes emotional speech in first awards appearance since infamous Oscars slap

The Bad Boys actor infamously slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars

will smith first awards since oscars
Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
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Will Smith made his first appearance at an awards show on Wednesday almost one year after he was banned from the Oscars for slapping Chris Rock onstage.

Will took to the stage at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, to accept the Beacon Award for his role in Emancipation at the 14th Annual African-American Film Critics Association Awards.

WATCH: The shocking moment Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars

The Bad Boys actor's appearance came just hours after it was reported that Chris – whose appearance at this year's Oscars remains uncertain – will finally address the altercation with Will in his new live Netflix special, which will air live on March 4 from Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre.

During his speech, Will made no reference to the controversial moment but appeared emotional as he recalled his time on the set of Emancipation.

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"Emancipation was the individual most difficult film of my entire career," he told the crowd before joking: "It was all outdoors, that is true."

will smith 14th annual aafca awards © Photo: Getty Images

Will made his first awards speech at the AAFCA awards  

He continued: "I remember it was the second day of shooting and it's really difficult to transport a modern mind to that time period. It's difficult to imagine that level of inhumanity. I remember it was like 110 degrees, we're out there and I'm in a scene with one of the white actors. We had our line and the actor decided to ad-lib.

"So we're doing the scene and I did my line and he did his line and then he ad-libbed... spitting in the middle of my chest," he said, as the audience gasped.

"So, I sat there, and I took a deep breath and we did Take 2, and the actor felt that the ad-lib had gone well... I do my line, he does his line and spits in the middle of my chest again. I just held in that moment and there was a part of me that was grateful that I got to really understand."

will smith slaps chris rock 2022 oscars© Photo: Getty Images

Will shocked the world when he slapped Chris at the Oscars

He then said that he heard director Antoine Fuqua's voice calling out: "Hey, let's do a take without the spit," adding: "And in that moment... I knew God was real."

Will went on to thank everyone in the room, "for doing what you do to keep our stories alive".

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