Questlove took home his first Academy Award on Sunday night (March 27) for theSummer of Soul (…Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)documentary. During his emotional speech, whispers of what had just transpired between Will Smith and Chris Rock were likely bouncing off the walls of the Dolby Theatre, with many in shock over what they’d just witnessed.
But apparently, The Roots drummer had no clue Smith had just smacked Rock on live television. In fact, he was apparently practicing transcendental meditation when the whole thing went down. Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on Monday (March 28) during an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he explained why he was aloof to slap heard around the world.
“I really wasn’t aware of that,” he said. “It’s weird to say because they tell you ahead of time, ‘This is your category.’ And so, in that moment you are either going to be full of anxiety, or for me, I’ve been meditating for the last two years. I do trans-med. Actually, Seinfeld taught me about that. A minute when the commercial break was happening, I was just in my ‘Mmmm.’”
He continued, “When I opened my eyes, I didn’t realize like, ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’ Like, I literally was not present for that whole entire moment, and as I’m walking to the stage, I’m putting two and two together, and I realize that that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words. In my mind, they’re just doing a sketch and I’m just like, ‘OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad …’ so I was not present at all. I was just in a blank state.”
During Questlove’s acceptance speech, he struggled to get his words out as he talked about the importance of the film to the packed crowd, which included his mother.
“This is not about me,” he said. “This is about marginalized people in Harlem that need to heal from pain.”
Summer of Soul won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award when it premiered at Sundance last February. More recently, he took home the award in the Best Documentary category at the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards. The film is also up for Best Music Film at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.
As for Will Smith and Chris Rock, the King Richard Oscar-winner has since issued an apology to the famed comedian.
“My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Smith wrote in an Instagram statement. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,”