In one of the most shocking surprises in Oscars history, Will Smith went up on stage during the 2022 Academy Awards and appeared to hit Chris Rock in the face — and later shouted an expletive at him from the audience — after the comedian commented on the appearance of his wife, actor Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock had just cracked a joke about how Pinkett Smith could star in a sequel to the movie “G.I. Jane” due to her bald head.
Plenty of people came to Pinkett Smith’s defense on social media after the incident, sharing reminders that the “The Matrix Resurrections” actor has alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss.
Pinkett Smith, 50, has been open with her experience with alopecia in recent years, including in a video she shared on Instagram in December. While showing off some hair loss at the top of her head, Pinkett Smith explained that she didn't get "brain surgery" and it was just her alopecia.
"Now at this point, I can only laugh. I mean y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia and just all of a sudden, one day — look at this line right here — look at that," she said while touching her scalp. "And so, it just showed up like that.
“Now, this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide so I thought I’d share it so y’all not asking any questions,” Pinkett Smith continued. “But you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there and I’m just going to make me a little crown. That’s what mama’s going to do.”
The "Red Table Talk" host captioned the post, "Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something😜 Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!😆."
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, alopecia areata is a "disease that develops when the body attacks its own hair follicles (where hair grows from), which can cause hair loss anywhere on the body."
This wasn't the first time that Pinkett Smith opened up about having alopecia. In 2018, the actor detailed the "terrifying" feeling she felt when she first learned that she was losing her hair.
“It was terrifying when it first started,” Pinkett Smith said on "Red Table Talk" at the time. “I was in the shower one day and then just handfuls of hair in my hands. And I was just like, ‘Oh my God, am I going bald?’ It was one of those times in my life when I was literally shaking with fear.”
It took Pinkett Smith a while to come to terms with what was happening to her and she admitted she had viewed her hair as an extension of her identity.
“My hair has been a big part of me,” she said previously. “Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual — and having the choice to have hair or not. And then one day to be like, ‘Oh my God, I might not have that choice anymore.’”
Pinkett Smith said she stopped worrying about her hair once she started to put things in a "spiritual perspective."
“The higher power takes so much from people. People are out here who have cancer, people have sick children,” she said. “And by golly, if the higher power wants to take your hair — that’s it? ... When I looked at it from that perspective, it really did settle me.”
In July 2021, Pinkett Smith had her hair shaved off, a move she said she made after her daughter, Willow Smith, inspired her to do so.
When she debuted her new look on Instagram she wrote, "Willow made me do it because it was time to let go BUT … my 50’s are bout to be Divinely lit with this shed.”
Willow Smith supported her mother and wrote on Instagram at the time, "a gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return."