Chris Rock was supposed to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 94th Academy Awards last night. He did do that, but that wasn’t the takeaway from his time on stage, given that after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith got on stage and slapped him.
After the incident, though, Rock did manage to present the award, giving it to Questlove’s film Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised). In an already emotionally charged atmosphere, Questlove (who shook Smith’s hand and hugged him on his way to the stage) gave an acceptance speech, in which he too got emotional.
Pausing on multiple occasions, Questlove said:
“It’s not lost on me that the Harlem Cultural Festival should have been something that my beautiful mother… and my dad… should have taken me to when I was 5 years old, and… This is such a stunning moment for me right now. But this is not about me. This is about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. And just know that in 2022, this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem. This is a story of… I’m sorry, I’m just overwhelmed right now. I’m going to get myself together and thank everyone properly when I get off stage. […] I’m so happy right now, I could cry. Thank you.”
During a recent Late Night With Seth Meyers interview, Questlove noted the success of the movie has exceeded his expectations, saying, “At least I know with music what a goal is, but with the movie world, I just had no clue. I just wanted to make something really cool and hopefully they were gonna show it in a few classrooms, and then maybe discover it 20 years from now, like, ‘Yo, you know Questlove did this thing?’”
Watch Questlove’s acceptance speech above and find the full list of this year’s Academy Award winners here.