Discussing his life and career at a leadership summit hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes, Washington spoke about the controversial altercation between Smith and Rock.
“Well, there’s a saying, ‘When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” he said. “The devil goes, ‘Oh no, leave him alone, he’s my favorite.’ Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because he’s trying to do something right. And for whatever reason, the devil got a hold of that circumstance that night.”
After the incident, Washington was seen speaking to Smith, along with Tyler Perry and Smith’s publicist, during the commercial breaks at the Oscars after Smith slapped Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith thanked Washington during his acceptance speech saying that he told him, “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
“Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others. Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me,” he recalled. “Said some prayers. I don’t wanna say what we talked about, but for the grace of God go any of us. Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it,”
In the aftermath of the ordeal, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences launched an investigation into the assault and initiated "disciplinary proceedings" against the King Richard actor.
As EBONY previously reported, Smith issued a statement clarifying his reasons for resigning his membership from the Academy.
“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” his statement read.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” he continued. “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. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”