Will Smith gave his first in-person speech tonight at an awards show since the 2022 Oscars incident with Chris Rock.
Smith accepted the Beacon Award at the African American Film Critics Association Awards. Her Emancipation Costar Charmaine Bingwa and AAFCA co-founder Gil L. Robertson introduced Smith and Antoine Fuqua, the film’s director.
After a brief speech by Fuqua, Smith took the stage.
Smith said Emancipation meant so much to him and thanked the people and companies who supported his achievement.
“I want to thank Gil and AAFCA. I want to thank all of you in this room for doing what you do, for keeping our stories alive. I want to thank Apple, because the budget was a thing. And then the budget was something else. And then the budget was something else. And Apple never flinched,” Smith said. “It was the first time I heard from a studio that the story was more important than the cost of making it… They make iPhones. They can do it.
Prior to the speech, Smith met Deadline and says he is so happy to be back. Smith is working on the fourth version of his Bad Boys film franchise. He called it being part of a family and said he had never done a fourth movie in a series.
“It’s like stepping back, and it’s a different vibe,” Smith said. “I’m so happy to be back with the same people.”