Rock had joked about the appearance of Will Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who has said that alopecia has caused her to lose her hair.
Pressley, whose tweet disappeared moments after it was posted, has said that the same autoimmune disease has caused her to lose her hair. “I’m ready now, because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that secret carries with it,” she said in a 2020 video in which she publicly discussed the condition.
Her tweet included a picture of her with her husband, Conan Harris.
After slapping Rock, Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock to not talk about his wife, with both Smith and Rock adding some words that caused ABC to beep their exchange. “That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Rock said before returning to his presentation for the award for feature-length documentary.
Smith subsequently won the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the film “King Richard.” In his acceptance speech, he tearfully accepted the award and apologized for his prior actions. “I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse,” he said,
He added: “I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.”
Josh Gerstein contributed to this article.