Will Packer has given his full insight into how he handled the Oscars night back in 2023.
While speaking at the AFROTECH Conference 2023 panel, “Lights, Camera, Legacy: Crafting a Timeless Media Empire,” Packer called the now-infamous slap “painful” to witness because of the context of Packer and his team as the first all-Black producing team for the Oscars.
Packer, speaking with Dr. Nicole Cross, talked about the pressure he and his team felt with trying to make the night as perfect as possible as the first Black producing team. As the first, Packer said that it might sound cool, “but when you’re in it, it ain’t cool because you are the first. You don’t have anybody to look at…you don’t have any peers and you don’t have any examples of success.”
“…Of course, with us being the first Black team, we were doing things that hadn’t been done before,” he said. “And it was…the most diverse Oscars in the history of Oscars. We made sure of that. We were going to do that. We were going to have flavor throughout that show. We’re going to have representation throughout that show. And it was going to be an excellent show. That was our plan.”
However, as we know, no one could plan for the slap.
“I really, really, really wanted this thing to go right,” Packer said. “I wanted the ratings, which ahd been on a decline, to go up for the first time, and I wanted it to be a great show. So when that happened, it wasn’t just that it happened. It was the, ‘Oh, not this year, not like this, y’all.’ Like, you could have slapped him in the parking lot. Any other time, man. Not this year.”
“I’m already up against it with folks that are pushing back against every single decision,” Packer continued. “And so that’s what it was…But I’ll tell you, Regina Hall gave the best quote of the night because I was pretty down just because you give so much to it. And I’m very proud of the show. I still am very proud of the show…But I was definitely like, ‘Ugh,’ right? Because we knew that’s all it would be remembered for. And Regina said, ‘Listen, Will,’ she said, ‘It would be one thing if DJ Khaled had slapped P. Diddy because you brought them on the stage and they’re not normally part of the stage. She said, ‘They’re in the room and they don’t let none of us in the room. Their ordained [by the powers that be at the Oscars]. That’s theirs. So this ain’t your fault, brother. That’s on them.”
Apart from the slap, the night was actually another success for Packer and another positive addition to his producing resume. But for Smith, the night resulted in him being banned from the Oscars telecast for 10 years. It also resulted in the rest of us hearing about the slap for years to come.
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