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Denzel Washington tells TD Jakes advice he gave Will Smith, says ‘prayer’ was the only answer 

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington speaks with Bishop T.D. Jakes at the International Leadership Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 2, 2022. |

Over the weekend, Denzel Washington and T.D. Jakes talked in more detail about Washington’s encounter with Will Smith following the now infamous Oscar slap.

The 67-year-old Washington was among those who spoke at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ International Leadership Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday. The minister asked the actor about the March 27 altercation between Smith and comedian Chris Rock, which is being called the “slap heard around the world.” 

Smith made headlines last Sunday after slapping Rock across the face at the Academy Awards, an action the Oscar winner has since apologized for. Smith also resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. The Academy is moving forward with disciplinary proceedings.

Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes bald patches on the scalp. It can affect both men and women of all races. During one of his comedy skits on stage, Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith and her condition with a joke. At first, Smith appeared to laugh at the joke, but his wife was visibly uncomfortable. Her husband then walked to Rock and slapped Rock across the face. 

Washington and others were seen providing counsel to Smith after the altercation as the violent confrontation left their Hollywood peers in shock. While accepting his award that night for best actor, Smith shared a piece of advice Washington gave him following the incident. 

“At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you,” Smith said Washington told him.  

During a conversation Saturday, Jakes told Washington that it seemed like he “stepped in the middle of World War III” and acted as a “senior statesman” trying to calm the situation. 

Washington responded: “There’s a saying: When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong. The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him alone. He’s my favorite.’”

Washington, who in recent years has become very outspoken about his Christian faith, said the devil got a hold of things that night at the Oscars.

“Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because you’re trying to do something right,” Washington stated. “And for whatever reason, the devil got a hold of that circumstance that night.”

He refrained from giving Jakes the details about the conversation he had with Smith at that moment, but he made sure not to criticize Smith for his actions.

“There but for the grace of God go any of us. Who are we to condemn?” Washington maintained. “I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer.” 

Later in the conversation, Washington said that he felt led to approach Smith following the incident, according to The Hollywood Reporter

“I couldn’t have sat in my seat. No way I could have sat in my seat,” he said. “That’s just not who I am.” 

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