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What Will Smith’s resignation from the Academy means for the actor

When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday, after the comedian joked about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, he sent shockwaves through the industry. Then, shortly after, Smith went back on stage to accept the Oscar for “Best Actor.”

In the days since the incident, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Smith’s peers have condemned his actions. Smith apologized to Rock on Monday, while Rock said during a stand-up show Wednesday night in Boston that he is still processing what happened.

Following his public apology, Smith announced his resignation from the Academy on Friday — and many were left wondering what the resignation would mean for the actor and his future. 

What is the Academy – and why do people join?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927 and the elite group began putting on the Academy Awards — which dole out the Oscars — in 1929, according to the Academy’s website. It currently has 10,000 members who make up 17 branches of the movie-making industry ranging from writers and actors to make-up artists and public relations. 

Membership reviews take place once a year in the spring and those hoping to gain access must be sponsored by two members of the Academy currently in the branch they seek admission to. However, Academy Award nominees are automatically considered for membership and do not need sponsorship. 

Members of the Academy have access to many perks, including the right to vote for those nominated in their branch and a vote for Best Picture. They also receive exclusive access to screenings of nominated movies. 

What does the resignation mean for Smith?

When he resigned from the Academy, Smith gave up those aforementioned perks. His resignation, however, does not mean he will lose his Oscar for his role in “King Richard.” He can also be nominated again in the future and be invited back to the ceremony, according to Variety

But the Academy announced last week it is reviewing the incident and will hold a disciplinary meeting for the actor on April 18. Smith could be sanctioned if he is found to be at fault during the review, but it’s not yet clear if the Academy would go as far as to take away the “Best Actor” award he won.

Although several members have been expelled from the Academy in the past, including Harvey Weinstein, few have resigned. According to People, Peter Kurland, an Oscar-nominated sound mixer, and Tom Fleischman, an Oscar-winning recording mixer, resigned last month after the Academy decided to stop airing their portions of the show.

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