Will Smith has added another honor to his already extensive collection of accolades. Last night (March 1), the prolific actor accepted the Beacon Award at the 2022 African American Film Critics Association Awards. He was recognized for his work in Emancipation, a film about “Whipped Peter,” a runaway slave whose life story was documented through photographs of brutal scars on his back.
“Emancipation was the individual most difficult film of my entire career. It was all outdoors, that is true,” Smith said as he opened his speech.
“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, he spit in the middle of my chest,” he continued. “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.”
The 54-year-old finished off by sharing some words of gratitude to the organization and everyone who helped make the film possible. “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,” he said.
The appearance also marked Smith’s first in-person speech at an awards ceremony since the 2022 Oscars, where he slapped Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. In other news, the Bad Boys actor recently confirmed a fourth installment of the beloved movie franchise is officially in the works.
Check out a recap of Will Smith’s acceptance speech down below.