Despite Oscar winning Will Smith’s successful acting career and his move away from music, Will and DJ Jazzy Jeff of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince have remained close friends throughout the course of their careers.
Now, the long-time DJ is defending his friend from the storm of criticism he’s received in the wake of the Men in Black star’s infamous slap at the 94th Academy Awards. According to Complex, at the Closed Sessions Legend Conversation at Dorian’s Through the Record Shop in Chicago, Jeff responded to a question about “the slap” and said it was a “lapse in judgment.”
“Don’t get it twisted that it was something he was proud of. It was a lapse in judgment, you know,” he said. “I think the thing that I’ve realized is I don’t know too many people that has had the least amount of lapse of judgment than him. I can name 50 times that he should’ve smacked the shit out of somebody and he didn’t. … So for him to have a lapse in judgment, he’s human. And I think a lot of the criticism comes from the people who don’t think people like that are human.”
In case you’ve been on another planet for the last few weeks, at the 94th Academy Awards, Chris Rock came on stage to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and did his usual bit where he makes fun of the famous people in the audience. Except, when he got to Jada Pinkett-Smith and commented on her bald head, saying, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” Will wasn’t having it. He walked on stage, slapped Rock in the face, then returned to his seat and yelled at the comedian to “keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.” And just in case there was any misunderstanding, he yelled it again.
Shortly after the incident, Will won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard, apologizing to the Academy in his acceptance speech. Of course, it was too late and all hell broke loose. The takes have been endless with everyone sharing their unwanted opinions on what the Academy should do and how Will’s career can bounce back.
Ultimately, the Academy decided to ban Will from its events for 10 years, with the Board of Governors stating in part: “The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”