Chris Rock hasn’t said much about his onstage altercation with Will Smith at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27. But according to Wanda Sykes, the comedian did issue a personal apology to her for what took place on stage that night. “I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this, but I saw Chris at Guy [Oseary’s] party,” Sykes said in a sneak peek of Wednesday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “And as soon as I walked up to him, the first thing he said was, ‘I am so sorry,’ and I’m like, ‘Why are you apologizing?’”
Sykes said Rock expressed regret that the incident and the media firestorm it created overshadowed the job she was doing as host along with comedian Amy Schumer and actress Regina Hall. “Y’all were doing such a great job,” Rock continued. “I’m so sorry this is now gonna be about this.” After two consecutive years without a host, the show’s producers chose the all-female team to bring some excitement back to the ceremony. Little did they know, the hosts would have nothing to do with the jaw-dropping excitement that occurred.
The now-infamous incident occurred after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. As the camera panned to Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, it was clear that the actress was visibly annoyed. That’s when Will Smith stunned the audience inside of the Dolby Theatre and millions of viewers at home when he walked onto the stage and slapped Chris Rock for the comment. Will Smith later apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees during his tear-filled Best Actor acceptance speech. Smith released a written apology to Rock, the producers and the Academy on Instagram the next day. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is conducting a formal review of the incident, which they say “will take a few weeks.”
Sykes was tight-lipped about the shocking incident on Oscar night and chose not to comment when asked by Page Six at the Vanity Fair Oscar after-party. But as she opened up to DeGeneres, Sykes believed Smith should have added the show’s hosts to the list of people he apologized to. “I know he apologized to Chris, but I believe that we were the hosts, right? So this is our house, we’re inviting you in, we’re hosting, we’re gonna take care of y’all tonight, make sure you have a good time. And no one has apologized to us, and we worked really hard to put that show together,” Sykes told Ellen on her show.
Sykes went on to say that there were seemingly no consequences for Smith’s actions at the ceremony. She believes Smith should not have been allowed to remain in the theater and accept his award after assaulting Rock during the live broadcast. “I just felt so awful for my friend Chris, and it was sickening,” she said. “I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatized by it. … And for them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this?’”