Watch: Will Smith's emotional acceptance speech after winning Oscar for portraying Venus and Serena Williams' father in King Richard

Will Smith won the 2022 Best Actor Oscar Award for his role as Venus and Serena Williams' father
Will Smith won the 2022 Best Actor Oscar Award for his role as Venus and Serena Williams' father

Will Smith took home the 2022 Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams' father Richard Williams in King Richard.

The American won his first Oscar in his third nomination, beating off competition from Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick... Boom!) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth).

Speaking on stage after collecting his award, the 53-year-old delivered an emotionally-charged speech while trying his best to keep his emotions at bay. Hailing Richard Williams as the "fierce defender" of his family, Smith remarked that he was called on to do the same for the young girls who played the role of Venus and Serena Williams in the film.

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who was one of the strongest and most delicate people I have ever met," Smith said. "I got to protect Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two actresses who played Venus and Serena Williams."

The actor added that he considered it his higher-calling to protect the people he loved, which he reckoned he had done to the best of his ability. On the verge of tears, Will Smith also pontificated about how it was essential to tolerate and ignore abuse as an actor and to keep a smile on one's face despite the blatant disrespect and mockery.

"I am being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know, to do what we do, we gotta be able to take abuse, to take people talking crazy about you," Smith said. "In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend like that's okay."

"It's not about winning an award for me, it's about being able to shine light on all the cast of King Richard and Venus and Serena Williams" - Will Smith

Will Smith dedicated his win to the entire cast of the movie, as well as Venus and Serena Williams
Will Smith dedicated his win to the entire cast of the movie, as well as Venus and Serena Williams

Will Smith's comments about the need to tolerate abuse as an actor had something to do with the fact that he had earlier gotten into an altercation with comedian Chris Rock.

Taking offense to a particularly distasteful joke Rock made about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, the actor walked on to the stage and slapped the comedian. Smith went on to repeatedly demand that Rock keep his mouth shut about his wife.

The 53-year-old later apologized for his momentary loss of control, adding that he did not mean to distract from the "beautiful moment" of King Richard winning an Academy Award.

Will Smith also used the opportunity to highlight the importance of the entire cast and crew, as well as Venus Williams and Serena Williams, who were executive producers on the film.

"I want to apologize to the academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I am not crying for winning an award. It's not about winning an award for me, it's about being able to shine light on all the cast of King Richard and Venus and Serena Williams and the entire Williams family," Smith said. "Art imitates life, and I look like the crazy father they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."

It should be noted that Will Smith's win was the only victory for King Richard on the night, as the film lost out in five other categories.


Also Check Out: Miami Open 2022 Results

Venus Williams and Father Richard recall one match that 7-time Grand Slam champion "should have won"