Will Smith attended the African American Film Critics Association Awards (AAFCA) to accept the Beacon Award with his Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua.
Will Smith returns to awards stage for the first time since 2022 Oscar Slapgate with Chris Rock
The actor returned to awards stage nearly a year since he slapped comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. While accepting the Beacon award on Wednesday, the actor thanked the film’s cast and crew. According to Variety, Smith’s Emancipation costar Charmaine Bingwa and AAFCA cofounder Gil L. Robertson introduced Smith and Fuqua early in the evening’s ceremony.
Fuqua began the acceptance speech by explaining the significance of the award and 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.”
The director went on to thank Apple, AAFCA and the film’s cast and crew before he gave the mic to Smith who recounted the production of the film. “Emancipation was the individual most difficult film of my entire career. It was all outdoors, that is true,” Smith joked. “It was the second day of shooting and 110 degrees… I was in a scene with one of the white actors.”
“The actor decided to ad lib. So, we’re doing the scene. I did my line. He did his line. And then — ad lib — he spit in the middle of my chest,” Smith said. “The actor felt that the ad lib had gone well. So, we do take two. I do my line. He does his line — and spits in the middle of my chest again… In the distance, I hear a voice. And Antoine says, ‘Hey, let’s do a take without the spit.’ And in that moment, I knew that God was real.”
Smith also took a moment to thank AAFCA, Apple and others saying, “I want to thank Gil and AAFCA. I want to thank all of you in this room for doing what you do, keeping our stories alive. I want to thank Apple, because the budget was one thing. And then the budget was another thing. And then the budget was another thing. And Apple never flinched. It was the first time I had heard from a studio that the story was more important than how much it costs to get it done… They make iPhones. They can do it.”
Citing Bingwa, the outlet also shared that before the award show, Smith made a special effort to express his gratitude to his Emancipation team who were filming one of the very challenging scenes. “There was a scene where the people had to lay dead in a tunnel… And Will just said, ‘You guys are doing a fantastic job. I know this is really tough.’ And he gave them all an extra $1,000 out of his own pocket. He’s just a great guy,” Bingwa told the outlet.
Also Read: Will Smith pokes fun at Chris Rock’s 2022 Oscar slap ahead of 2023 Oscar in a TikTok video; watch
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