Will Smith back on the awards circuit


Will Smith returned to the awards season circuit on Wednesday to collect the Beacon Award at the African American Film Critics Association Awards. The speech marked the Oscar winner’s first personal acceptance at an awards show since he batted Chris Rock on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards.

He accepted the prize together with his Emancipation Director Antoine Fuqua, who opened the acceptance speech by explaining the importance of the prize. “The Beacon Award aims to highlight films that tackle challenging subjects with insight, are enlightening and captivate audiences,” he said. “We hoped that Emancipation could bring to life Peter’s triumphant story, unwavering faith and deep love for his family.” The director then thanked Apple, AAFCA, and the film’s cast and crew before handing the microphone to Smith.

“Emancipation was the most individually difficult film of my entire career,” the actor said as he began his part of the speech. “It is very difficult to transport a modern mind to that period. That is hard to imagine, that level of inhumanity.”

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He went on to talk about his experience filming the AppleTV+ movie, in which he plays Peter, an enslaved man who manifests his own freedom. Smith then recalled being spontaneously spat on by a white co-star while filming a tense scene, and how that affected his understanding of the injustices of the slavery era.

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