Will Smith’s fiery slap across Chris Rock’s face during this year’s highly anticipated Academy Awards has left the world in awe.
It is trending on social media, with the hashtag #Jada being discussed by over 1.1 million Kenyans on Twitter today.
The celebrated comedian Chris Rock did what he typically does- he took a cheeky jab at a star, but this time around it did not receive just an eruption of laughter.
“Jada, can't wait for GI Jane 2," the comedian said in reference to the 1997 action film in which the main character, Demi Moore famously acted with a shaven head.
The joke poked fun at Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, which is the result of a hair loss condition, alopecia.
In the moment, Pinkett’s husband, Will Smith laughed along. But soon after, Smith suddenly walked to the stage and slapped the comedian.
He then returned to his seat from where he shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth!”
While the slap shocked the world and became the subject of discussion on social media, it is not the first time Smith and Rock have crossed paths, and the tension between the two has been a long time coming.
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We take a look at the history between the two celebrated personalities.
Will Smith and Chris Rock co-star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1995
Their working relationship began when they both starred in the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“Doubling up as a popular actor named Maurice Perry and his sister Jasmine, Rock's guest appearance was featured during episode 2, season 6, titled ‘Get a Job,’ which aired on Sept. 25, 1995,” People Magazine reports.
The comedian hands Smith his Grammy award for Best Rap Song, 1998
Soon after working together on the 1990s sitcom, Rock was tasked with presenting Smith his Best Rap Song Grammy Award for ‘Men In Black.’
But that moment was not all roses, it has been described by Complex magazine as “awkward.”
Before handing Smith his accolade, Rock repeatedly mocked the moment.
“[Rock] also repeatedly said ‘Get outta here,’ seemingly in disbelief, before giving the rapper his trophy. The pair also appeared in the 1999 Spike Jonze mockumentary Torrance Rises. The two haven’t co-starred in any major film since, and that might be in part because Rock feels like Smith has taken roles from him in the past, something he joked about over a decade ago,” Complex writes in the report What Led To The Slap: The History Behind Will Smith and Chris Rock’s Relationship.
Will Smith accepts another award from Chris Rock, Kids Choice Awards 2005
This interaction has been described a “lighter one” by People Magazine, who reported that the comedian presented a prized blimp to the actor for his work as Oscar in Sharktale.
“Five years later in 2010, Rock and Smith reunited at the show again when they posed for a photo, alongside the latter's son, Jaden Smith, backstage,” the magazine notes.
The report adds that Rock also worked with Pinkett. The two starred alongside each other in the 2005 animated film Madagascar.
But it was in 2016 when the tension may have escalated
In 2016, Chris Rock mentioned Pinkett during his Oscar’s monologue, taking several jabs at her publicized decision to boycott the ceremony.
"Jada said she's not coming, protest. I was like, 'Isn't she on a TV show?' Jada's going to boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited!" he said.
That year, the Oscars had drawn criticism for announcing a list of all white nominees. Pinkett was at the forefront of calling out the lack of inclusivity, along stars like Spike Lee and George Clooney.
Variety entertainment magazine suggests that a strained relationship between the two stars dates back six years ago, placing it to around this time.
At the time, Jada had taken a hard stance against the award ceremony, saying that the lack of inclusivity was “disgraceful on Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday.”
“I can’t help but ask the question: Is it time that people of colour recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?” Pinkett said on a Facebook video at the time.
“Rock has toured with his stand-up act over the years, and multiple sources share that the comedian has made jokes about Pinkett Smith during his shows, angering Smith. The “G.I. Jane” crack on Sunday about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head appeared to have pushed Smith over the edge,” Variety reports in its piece, What’s Behind the Will Smith and Chris Rock feud?
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, then apologises
Then came the infamous moment that has made headlines across the world- the slap.
Since the incident, Smith has apologised to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which presents the award ceremony, his peers and Rock.
"I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong," Smith wrote in a Monday night Instagram post.
He added: "I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."