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Questlove meditated during Will Smith's slap of Chris Rock at Oscars: 'I was not present at all'


Questlove revealed that he did not see Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock during Sunday’s Oscars, as he was meditating in the moment it occurred.

The 51-year-old musical artist opened up about his Oscars experience on Monday’s edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul, which Rock, 57, was the presenter for.

‘Of course, that happened in the cyclone of a whole other situation with two very good friends of mine,’ he said of the exchange. ‘I really wasn’t aware of that.’

The latest: Questlove, 51, revealed on Monday's edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that he did not see Will Smith's infamous slap of Chris Rock during Sunday's Oscars, as he was meditating in the moment it occurred

The latest: Questlove, 51, revealed on Monday’s edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that he did not see Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock during Sunday’s Oscars, as he was meditating in the moment it occurred

The Roots drummer, whose full name is Ahmir Khalib Thompson, said he was practicing Transcendental Meditation at the time his category was announced, during which time the incident between Smith, 53, and Rock, 57, occurred.

‘It’s weird to say, because they tell you ahead of time, “This is your category,” so in that moment, you’re either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I’ve been meditating for the last two years,’ he said. ‘When the commercial break was happening, I was just [meditating,]’ so when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realize – why is everyone so quiet? Like, I literally was not present for that whole entire moment.’

He continued, ‘But in my mind they’re just doing a sketch or whatever and I’m like, “OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, dad,” so I was not present at all, I was just in a blank space.’

Questlove said as he was ‘walking to the stage’ he was ‘kind of putting two and two together and realized that that was a real moment’ between Smith and Rock prior to delivering his acceptance speech. 

The musical artist opened up about his Oscars experience, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul

The musical artist opened up about his Oscars experience, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul 

The Tonight Show stalwart cradled his Oscar statue as he made his way to the couch

The Tonight Show stalwart cradled his Oscar statue as he made his way to the couch 

Questlove said of the slap, 'Like, I literally was not present for that whole entire moment'

Questlove said of the slap, ‘Like, I literally was not present for that whole entire moment’

The Oscar-winning doc from Philadelphia native, who plays in The Tonight Show’s house band The Roots, examined the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which featured an impressive roster of artists consisting of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone and the 5th Dimension.

The exchange between Smith and Rock took place after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, ‘Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,’ in reference to the 1997 movie which featured Demi Moore with a shaved head. (Pinkett Smith, 50, has diagnosed with alopecia, which causes hair loss.)

Smith then walked onstage and smacked Rock, then returned to his seat and shouted at him twice, ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!’ to a stunned audience at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Questlove directed the Oscar-winning doc, which examined the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival

Questlove directed the Oscar-winning doc, which examined the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival

He delivered his acceptance speech in the wake of the shocking moment. He was pictured onstage with (L-R) producers Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein

He delivered his acceptance speech in the wake of the shocking moment. He was pictured onstage with (L-R) producers Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein

Smith apologized on Instagram Monday, calling himself ‘a work in progress’ after the unprecedented incident.

‘Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,’ Smith in a statement. ‘My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. 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.’

He continued: ‘I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.’

Smith, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as tennis patriarch Richard Williams in King Richard, also apologized to the Academy, the show’s producers, guests and viewers, as well as the Williams family and his film’s cast and crew.

Rock did not press charges in connection with the incident, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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