Crisis PR Expert Says Will Smith Still Have Long Road Ahead To Rebuild His Image After Chris Rock Apology

Crisis PR Expert Says Will Smith Still Have Long Road Ahead To Rebuild His Image After Chris Rock Apology

Updated on August 03, 2022 21:56 PM by Andrew Koschiev

The King Richard actor Will Smith still rebuilds trust with the public after Chris Rock's apology. In a nearly-six-minute clip posted online on July 29, Will Smith, 53, publicly apologized to Chris Rock and expressed remorse for slapping him on stage at the Oscars in March.

However, crisis management PR expert Gary Rosen says the actor can't expect Hollywood to roll out the red carpet for his return.

Rosen says the entertainment industry "is very forgiving. Everybody gets a comeback or at least a try at a comeback," adding, "But this is not going to happen overnight. I don't think that's happened yet." He needs to rebuild trust.

Though Rosen admits the video apology was a step in the right direction, he believes the mea culpa was too "orchestrated." Rosen continues, "When you do not have someone interviewing you, and there is no give and take, it comes across as less authentic."

Consenting to a sit-down has its risks, too. "I always think of Prince Andrew, which was the ultimate train wreck," Rosen says of the scandal that plagued the royal's widely-panned 2019 BBC interview about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the late billionaire accused of sexual assault.

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Rosen believes Smith may have been testing the waters to gauge public reaction to the apology before making further moves. He says, "I feel this was the strategy: 'Let's do this. Let's see how it plays. Let's take a beat, and we'll go from there.'"

Mixed responses:

Celebrity friends and fans of Smith's have praised the Ali actor on his social media; Jamie Foxx wrote, "your true fans have never stopped loving you!"—while others found Smith's video grating.

Another Twitter user wrote, "I'm so sick of Will Smith being given air time. He assaulted another."

One person who has not directly weighed in: Rock himself. Though Rock has joked about the controversy in his stand-up shows recently, he has not addressed whether or not he accepts the apology.

Jeff Bock, Exhibitor Relations Company's senior media analyst, says, "Until that happens, most people will likely raise their eyebrows when Will Smith's name is mentioned."

Like Rosen, he believes Smith's future in Hollywood is a big question mark. He said, "As far as getting back into the swing of things for Smith, we won't really know how the public will react until he releases something new."

Some of Smith's projects were reportedly delayed in the wake of the slap.

Previously, a source said Smith is eager to put the incident in the past. He has been in therapy and wanted to work on himself before speaking out, "He is deeply remorseful, he's still doing a lot of work, and he is also human and made a mistake."

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