Out of all of the surprising moments of the 94th Academy Awards, the unscripted altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock has uniquely dominated the cultural conversation. Smith, who later won the night's Best Actor Award for his performance in King Richard, walked onstage and slapped Rock in the face while he was presenting an award, after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. While the matter has reportedly been resolved and Rock is not electing to press charges, the moment has kicked off a flurry of conversation, with many weighing in on various elements of it. Actress Tiffany Haddish, who starred alongside Pinkett Smith in the 2017 film Girls Trip, recently shared her thoughts on the ordeal in an interview with People.
"When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife," Haddish explained. "That meant so much to me. As a woman, who has been unprotected, for someone to say, 'Keep my wife's name out your mouth, leave my wife alone,' that's what your husband is supposed to do, right? Protect you. And that meant the world to me. And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives."
The joke in question involved Rock addressing Pinkett Smith's shaved haircut, comparing it to the 1997 film G.I. Jane. Pinkett Smith's hair is a result of her years-long battle with the autoimmune disease alopecia, something that the actress has spoken publicly about since 2018.
"Why would you do that? He didn't even run the joke by her, but she was hurt though," Haddish added. "If she wouldn't have been hurt, [Will] probably wouldn't have said nothing. But you could see he was clearly... And they exploited it. They exploited her, so 'I have to do something'... He protected his wife."
In a subsequent interview with ET Online, Haddish referred to the moment as "a success," and revealed that she spoke to the couple following the incident.
"I would define tonight as a success," Haddish explained. "First of all, I have seen a man stand up for his wife, which we don't see that much anymore. That made me have hope."
"They know how I feel. That's my friends. They know," Haddish added with a smile. "I felt very proud. I felt gratified, and I just hope more men are like that -- care about their families. It's not just about you, right? It's not just about you, sir. What about your family? The people you create? The people that help you be who you are? That's important. That's what I think America forgot about."