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What Will Smith said when he won best actor after slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

Will Smith's Oscars acceptance speech for best actor wavered between defense and apology for slapping Chris Rock on stage earlier in the show.

LOS ANGELES — In one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the 94th Academy Awards after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home.  

A tearful Smith returned to the stage later in the show to collect the best actor Oscar, his first. Smith’s acceptance speech wavered between defense and apology.

Here's the full text of what Will Smith said during his best actor acceptance speech: 

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Sinai and Demi, the two actresses that play Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people. And to protect people and to be a river to my people.

I know, to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s OK.

Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, he said “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.” It's like, I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say, Thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. 

That's what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. 

I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine a lot on all the people Tim and Trevor and Zach and Sinai and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of King Richard and Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams! But, love will make you do crazy things.

To my mother, this moment is really complicated for me but to my mother, she didn't want to come out she has a knitting crew that she's in Philly watching with. Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife, I'm taking up too much time. Thank you for this honor, thank you for this moment and thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. I hope the Academy invites me back."

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