The comedian says that the work of her and co-hosts Amy Schumer and Regina Hall was minimized.
At this point, everyone has weighed in on Will Smith storming the stage at the recent Academy Awards to slap Chris Rock for making a joke at the expense of his wife’s alopecia. From water cooler talks, to the meme factory, to the hot take generators, to celebrity reactions and late-night bits — the matter is the center of the cultural conversation right now. The discourse has evolved from whether or not people should be able to take jokes, make jokes, what makes a good joke, to white comics having some awkward pearl-clutching moments about violence. Others have wanted to center the issue around race and toxic masculinity. Even Roxanne Gay — the voice of reason within the elite literati — offered her wisdom. But now Wanda Sykes has finally said her piece. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the comic, and one of the three hosts of the ceremony during which the incident occurred, did not hold back about her feelings.
Sykes started discussing the topic by mentioning how proud she was of her co-hosts Regina Hall and Amy Schumer — the three did a bang-up job of reinvigorating an awards program that for years has been embarrassingly slinking into irrelevance and poor ratings. She went on to get to the heart of the situation saying, “I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris. And it was sickening. I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatized by it.” Sykes added, “And for them to let [Will] stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, 'How gross is this?' This is just the wrong message. ... You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building.” There are conflicting reports around whether Smith was asked to leave or not, but he stayed at the show and later accepted the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard. Sykes suggested on Ellen, to audience laughter and applause, that the better solution would have been for the hosts to announce that Will “unfortunately couldn’t be here tonight” when his victory was announced.
Sykes points to an important issue though, which is that no one has publicly apologized to the three women who were historically hosting the night. Will Smith did make a fumbling attempt at an apology during his acceptance speech, and also issued a formal apology to social media that finally addressed Chris Rock directly — but he didn’t feel the need to include Sykes, Schumer, and Hall alongside the Williams family and the Academy in his statement Sykes finished, “I believe that, you know, we were the hosts. Right? This is our house; we’re inviting you in. We’re going to take care of you tonight, and make sure you have a good time. And no one has apologized to us. And we worked really hard to put that show together.” She did, however, say that Rock apologized to her for the slap overshadowing the accomplishment of the three hosts. “‘This was supposed to your night. You, Amy, and Regina were doing a great job,’” she recounted Rock as saying. “‘Now, it’s going to be about this.’”