Jason Merritt/Getty Will Smith
Will Smith is back in the limelight as an actor.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the 54-year-old actor, who has been silent since the Oscars controversy in March, has joined the team as part of the Lakers’ Genius Talks. The event is an annual conference where celebrities speak to the team for inspiration.
The Oscar winner was presented with his No. 14 Lakers jersey and posed for photos with the team and team owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka. According to Lakers, the actor spoke about “strength through unity and gratitude in times of great adversity.”
The team is currently in the midst of a losing season.
Smith’s message was “inspired by themes from his upcoming masterpiece. Emancipation.”
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Also sharing a photo of the team, Smith wrote on Instagram: “Having a sneak peek of #Emancipation for the @lakers and a great convo about the movie for their Genius Series…big thanks to everyone who came! Next stop… my @ sixes”.
Apple Original Films released the official trailer for the film earlier this month, in which Smith plays a man who escapes slavery and strives for freedom.
At a screening of the film in early October, Smith elaborated on the film’s theme and message.
“I’ve turned down a lot of slavery movies throughout my career,” Smith said at the screening. The The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us that. And then this picture came out. It’s not a movie about slavery. It’s a movie about freedom. It’s a movie about endurance. It’s a movie about faith. It’s a movie about the human heart — it’s the first viral video. Cameras had just been made, and the image of Peter being whipped went around the world.
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It’s his first film since the incident at the 94th Academy Awards, when he slapped Chris Rock in front of a live audience after he made a joke about fellow comedian Jada Pinkett Smith.
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That night, Smith won Best Actor King Richard He was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and banned from Academy events for ten years after the incident.
Smith won Best Actor at this year’s BET Awards in June, but did not attend the event.