Lost in the commotion of what transpired between Chris Rock and Will Smith on the stage at The Academy Awards is that the comedian was present to present an award, specifically Best Documentary Feature. The award went to Summer of Soul, the Searchlight Pictures film from Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove, musician and drummer for The Roots. Following the ceremony on Sunday, Questlove returned to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where the host asked him what was going through his head right before he won. Fallon didn't mention that right before Questlove won was when the Smith/Rock altercation occurred, but as the Oscar-winner put it, he wasn't aware of anything in that moment anyway.
"We were the only two people in the room," Questlove said, referring to he and his mother, right before the winner was announced. "It was that moment that I realized that we went through so much, from them sacrificing to put me in music school – and it was either our bills or my future – and I thought about all of those moments. And of course, that happened in the cyclone of a whole 'nother situation with two very good friends of mine. I really wasn't aware of that. It's weird to say. hey tell you ahead of time, this is your category, and so, in that moment, you're either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I've been like meditating for the last two years. I do (Transcendental Meditation)," Questlove said. "And when the commercial break happened, I was in my 'Mmmm.' So when I opened my eyes, I didn't realize, like 'Why is everyone so quiet?' I literally was not present for that whole, entire moment."
He continued, "As I'm walking to the stage, I'm kind of putting two and two together, and I realize that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words. But in my mind, they were just doing a sketch or whatever, and I'm just like, 'OK Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad.' So I was not present at all. I was just in a blank state."
In his acceptance speech, Questlove acknowledged his fellow nominees in the category as well but paid tribute to his family and the people of Harlem. He said: "It's not lost on me that the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival should have been something that my beautiful mother, my dad, should have taken me to when I was five years old, and this is such a stunning moment for me right now, but this is not about me. This is about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. Just know that in 2022 this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem."
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Oscar winner for Best Documentary, is streaming now on Hulu.
(Cover Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)0comments