Will Smith Receives Beacon Award for Emancipation at AAFCA Awards, First Stage Appearance Since Oscar Controversy

Will Smith Receives Beacon Award for Emancipation at AAFCA Awards, First Stage Appearance Since Oscar Controversy

American actor, Will Smith returned to the stage for the first time since the Oscar slap to accept the Beacon Award for Emancipation at the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Awards on Wednesday evening.

Will, 54-year-old accepted the Beacon Award at the 14th Annual AAFCA Awards, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

Will’s appearance comes hours after reports claim that Chris Rock’s new live Netflix special will address the slap.

He was joined by his Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua on stage, opening his speech by revealing, ‘Emancipation was the individual most difficult film of my entire career,’ before joking, ‘It was all outdoors, that is true.’

He said;

‘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.

The audience gasped, so did Will himself. He added,

‘If I had pearls on, I definitely would have clutched them,’ adding he wanted to cry out to his director Fuqua but he stopped

‘I stopped and I realized Peter couldn’t have called the director,’ Smith said, referencing his character, known as ‘Whipped Peter,’ whose famous scourged back photo was published in 1863 and revealed the horrors of slavery.

‘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”.

He then joked that he heard director Fuqua’s voice calling out,

‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit,’ adding, ‘And in that moment… I knew God was real.’

Smith then turned to his fellow Black artists in the crowd, saying they are people who really, ‘suffer for the art to bring these stories to the screen and deliver them in a way that has emotional impact for the telling of our stories and hopefully just a subtle possibility to change a heart, or to change a mind.’

He went on to thank everyone in the room, ‘for doing what you do to keep our stories alive,’ while thanking Apple as well, saying they ‘never flinched’ when the budget kept increasing.


He added with applause

‘It was the first time I heard from a studio, “The story is more important than how much it costs to get it done.Then we added some more stuff that we wanted.’

He wrapped up his speech by adding,

‘More than anything, I want to thank my brother Antoine Fuqua. He didn’t compromise on one shot.

Director Antione Fuqua also spoke on stage, beginning with the importance of the award they received.

He said:

‘The Beacon Award is intended to highlight films that are tackling challenging subjects with insight, enlightening, as well as engaging the audience,’

‘It was our hope that Emancipation, that it would be able to bring Peter’s triumphant story and unwavering faith and his deep love for his family to life’.

Read Also: Oscar Slap: Chris Rock finally breaks his silence

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