Sykes, 58, was en route from her trailer back to the Oscars theatre when Will Smith walked on stage to slap comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. She did, however, witness the verbal exchange afterward, when Smith told Rock to “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!”
In an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Wednesday, Sykes told the host she felt “sickened” and “physically ill” by Smith’s actions.
“I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris,” said Sykes. “I’m still a little traumatized by it.”
The comedian hosted Sunday’s Oscars ceremony alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
Sykes also said Smith should not have been allowed to stay in The Dolby Theatre or accept his Best Actor award for King Richard after the altercation.
“For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this? This is just the wrong message,’” she said. “You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that’s it. For them to let him continue, I thought it was gross.”
“Plus, I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately Will couldn’t be here tonight…’” she joked.
On Wednesday, The Academy said Smith was asked to leave Sunday’s Oscar ceremony after hitting Rock but refused to do so.
The altercation between Smith and Rock occurred Sunday during the Oscars broadcast when Rock, 57, was presenting the award for Documentary Feature (won by Summer of Soul).
“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?” Rock joked, referencing the 1997 film G.I. Jane starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy SEAL candidate.
Pinkett Smith, who has publicly spoken about her struggles with alopecia, was visibly unimpressed by the joke.
Smith walked onto the stage from his front-row seat and took a swing at Rock with an open palm, generating a loud smack. Smith walked back to his seat and shouted for Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a G.I. Jane joke and Smith yelled back at him a second time.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!” Smith shouted, and the crowd hushed as it became clear this was no act. The auditorium was pin-drop silent.
Sykes also expressed upset that “no one has apologized” to her and the other hosts.
“We worked really hard to put that show together,” she said.
DeGeneres agreed with Sykes, saying the work of the hosts was “overshadowed.”
After the ceremony, Sykes said she saw Rock at a party, who apologized to her, saying, “It was supposed to be your night.”
Sykes did not understand why Rock was the one apologizing to her.
Schumer also shared her thoughts on the televised altercation in an Instagram post, which now appears to be deleted.
“Still triggered and traumatized,” Schumer wrote. “I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro.”
“Im proud of myself and my cohosts,” she continued. “But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.”
On Monday afternoon, following much fallout from the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident, the Academy announced in a statement that it’s starting an investigation into what took place.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” reads the statement. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore future action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
That same day, Smith issued an apology to the comedian, the Academy and viewers at home, saying on Instagram that he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”
It is unclear what action, if any, the Academy will take against Smith.
— with files from The Associated Press
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