What Does Will Smith's 10-Year Ban from Oscars Ceremony Mean: 'A Steep Price for Him to Pay'

Will Smith is banned from attending Oscars ceremonies for the next decade, but that doesn't mean he can no longer be nominated for his work

Will Smith is unable to attend Oscars ceremonies for the next decade, but under the award show's rules he can still earn nominations and possibly even win.

On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors decided on a repercussion for Smith due to his behavior at this year's March 27 ceremony, when he got onstage and smacked Chris Rock in the face during the show. Smith took issue with a joke Rock made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith potentially being in a G.I. Jane sequel, in reference to her shaved head.

According to a letter sent by Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, the Academy decided "for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards."

"This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith's behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted."

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Smith, 53, later said in a statement, "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."

While the star — who won Best Actor this year for his performance as King Richard and was previously nominated for 2001's Ali and 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness — is barred from appearing at Oscars ceremonies through 2032, he can still score nominations: the Academy's Standards of Conduct rules do not tie to award eligibility.

As Dave Karger, Turner Classic Movies host and entertainment expert, explains to PEOPLE, "Will Smith's punishment is not as severe as a lifetime ban from the Oscar ceremony but it's still a steep price for him to pay. He is still eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award, as is anyone who works on a project he stars in."

"But," adds Karger, "I highly doubt he will hear his name called as a nominee in the near future."

Will Smith
Will Smith. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty

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Smith has one upcoming project already filmed. His AppleTV+ thriller Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), is about a man who escapes slavery. It was expected to debut before the end of 2022 and be a likely contender for next awards season, especially coming off AppleTV+'s Best Picture win for CODA this year. That made Apple TV+ the first streaming service to win that honor.

Will Smith (R) sits alongside US actress Jada Pinkett Smith with the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for "King Richard" during the 94th Oscars
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

A week before receiving the decade-long ban, Smith officially resigned from the Academy, taking expulsion off the table. Now that the actor has resigned from the Academy, he will no longer enjoy the benefits that members are afforded, including access to screeners for films in consideration and the ability to vote for potential nominees.

He said, in part, "I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film."

Smith added, "Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason."

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