No, People, Senator Will Smith Didn't Slap Chris Rock at the Oscars

But tell that to the Twitter users directing angry messages the politician's way.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
3 min read

PSA: Will Smith the actor (not Will Smith the politician or Will Smith the video game creator) slapped Chris Rock on Sunday night.  

Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Will Smith famously slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at Sunday's Oscars ceremony, and a Maryland state senator is one of the other Will Smiths of the world taking heat for the action. 


Maryland State Senator Will Smith is not married to Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Will Smith

"Why you hit Chris Rock bitch," reads one tweet directed at the Democrat, a member of the state senate since 2016 who chairs its Judicial Proceedings Committee. Reads another, "I threw your remote at my TV so my 5-year-old daughter wouldn't see your violent behavior." 

Following the slap seen and heard 'round the world, David Moon, a member of Maryland's house, called attention to the mixup between Smith the slapping actor and Smith the US Navy veteran representing Montgomery County.  

"Oh snap. Maryland Senator Will Smith getting lit up for last night," Moon tweeted

But Sen. Smith isn't the only Will Smith caught up in the slap's fallout, which includes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publicly condemning the actor's actions and now investigating them. Will Smith of San Francisco, who makes video games, has been busy responding to tweets commenting on "his" Academy Awards showing. 

"Real talk, I'm not the person you're upset/happy with. I make podcasts and video games for a living," that Smith tweeted. "At the risk of making people pissed off at me instead of that other guy, the world would be a better place if we stopped answering words with violence."

Another San Franciscan named Will Smith, who runs Acquiring Minds, a podcast about entrepreneurship through acquisition, tells me he hasn't received angry messages post-Oscars, but that he has heard jokes from friends, family and Twitter acquaintances. That led him to tweet a joke of his own. 

"I feel you," tweeted that Smith, cc'ing a whole group of other Will Smiths, including a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and a Fox News assignment editor. "Stay strong." 

For those who've somehow missed it, actor Will Smith strode onto the stage Sunday night and clocked Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Pinkett Smith wears a buzz haircut as a result of the condition alopecia, which causes drastic hair loss. "Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can't wait to see you," Rock joked, referring to Demi Moore's crewcut hair in the 1997 film G.I. Jane. That prompted Will Smith to stride onto the stage, hit Rock in the face and later shout from his seat in the audience, "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth." 

Smith has since apologized for his behavior, saying: "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be." 

On Tuesday, Pinkett Smith posted a message to her Instagram account. "This is a season for healing and I'm here for it," the message reads. 

Sen. Smith didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on being mixed up with the King Richard star, but he's not the first politician thrust into the spotlight as a result of a name that's the same as or similar to that of another high-profile public figure. 

Joe Baiden, the mayor of a small Japanese town, found himself in the spotlight in November 2020 when the internet noticed that the kanji characters used for his name can be pronounced in a way that sounds a lot like Joe Biden.

Baiden seemed to appreciate the humor of his moment in the social media spotlight and said he hoped the attention would benefit his town of a little more than 15,000 residents.