Jason Merritt/Getty Will Smith
Will Smith is returning to acting and to the public eye.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the actor, 54, who kept quiet after his Oscars controversy in March, visited the team as part of Genius Talks Lakers. The event is an annual conference where celebrities speak to the team to provide inspiration.
The Oscar winner was presented with a No. 14 Lakers jersey and posed for a photo with the team and team owner, Jeanie Buss, and general manager, Rob Pelinka. According to the Lakers, the actor spoke about “strength through unity, and gratitude in challenging times.”
The team is currently in the middle of a losing season.
Smith’s message is said to be inspired by “themes in his upcoming blockbuster film, Salvation.”
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Also sharing the team photo, Smith wrote on Instagram: “Sneak peek at #Emancipation for the @lakers and had a GREAT convo about the film for their Genius series… big thanks to all a man who came through! Next stop… my @ sianar.”
Apple Original Films released the official trailer for the film earlier this month where Smith plays a man who escapes from slavery and embarks on a quest for freedom.
At a screening of the film held in early October, Smith elaborated on the film’s theme and message.
“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films set in slavery,” Smith reportedly said at the screening. The The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. It is this is a film about suffering. This is a film about faith. This is a film about the human heart – what is called the first viral image. Cameras were just created, and Peter’s image was whipped around the world.”
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This is his first film since the incident at the 94th Academy Awards where he punched Chris Rock in front of a live audience after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
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While Smith won the award for Best Actor that night for his part King Richard performance, he resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was eventually banned from attending Academy events for ten years after the incident.
Smith won Best Actor at this year’s BET Awards in June but was not present at the event.