Will Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 94th Academy Awards, currently being held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
Smith won the award for his role as Richard Williams, father of tennis champion Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard, a biographical film that outlined Williams’ role in the sisters’ remarkable success. The film was directed by Rinaldo Marcus Green and stars Smith as the title role, alongside Unjano Ellis as his wife Brandi and Sania Sidney, Demi Singleton as Venus and Serena, and Jon Bernthal as tennis coach Rick Macy. Venus and Serena Williams served as executive producers on the project.
Smith was already in charge of the main drama the evening after Looks like he beat up Chris Rock After the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Take my wife’s name out of your damn mouth,” he shouted at Rock twice. At ad breaks, Smith can be seen wiping tears from his eyes and comforted by others in the room.
Smith took to the stage, addressing the controversy by referring to the character he played in King Richard.
He said, “Oh, man.” Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. At this time in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God calls me to do and be in this world.
“While making this movie, I have to protect Ongano Ellis, one of the strongest and most sensitive people I have ever met. I was able to protect Sania Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two actresses who played Venus and Serena.
“I am called in my life to love people, protect people, and be a river to my people. I know we do what we do and you must be able to take offense and make people talk crazy about you. In this business, people abuse you and you have to smile and pretend that it is a good thing.”
“I want to be a vessel of love, I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and all the Williams family for commissioning your story to me. I want to be an ambassador for that kind of love, care and attention.
“I want to apologize to the Academy and all of my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment as I cry to win an award. It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine a light on all the people, all the cast and crew.”
“Art imitates life!” Smith said, continuing to wipe tears. “You sounded like a mad father, they said. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith finished by thanking his mother, who he said could not attend because she was too busy with the knitting ring. “Thank you for this moment,” he concluded. “I hope the academy will invite me again.”
Smith has already received several awards for his role in the movie, including Best Actor at the Bafta Awards, Critics Choice and Best Actor (Drama) at the Golden Globes. In the OscarsSmith succeeded on the third attempt, having been nominated twice before for Best Actor: Ali in 2002 and The Pursuit of Happyness in 2007.