Rihanna, Dave Chappelle and Tyler Perry Support Will Smith at ‘Emancipation’ Screening: ‘It‘s Truly Powerful and Moving’

Will Smith’s comeback got a boost from the likes of Rihanna and Dave Chappelle, who were just two of several high profile guests in attendance at a recent screening of “Emancipation.” The Antoine Fuqua-directed slavery drama marks Smith’s first movie release since the 2022 Oscars, where he slapped presenter Chris Rock on stage.

In a photo posted to Instagram, Smith is seen attending the “Emancipation” screening alongside Rihanna, Chappelle, Kenya Barris and ASAP Rocky, among others. Smith wrote in the caption: “EPIC night!! Thanx for coming to see #Emancipation. Hope ya’ll enjoyed!!”

“Emancipation” stars Smith as a runaway slave who becomes known as “Whipper Peter” after photographs of keloid scarring on his back are distributed to show the brutality of slavery. The film follows Smith’s character as he navigates the swamps of Louisiana to escape the plantation owners that nearly killed him.

“I’m still haunted by ‘Emancipation,’” Perry wrote on his Instagram story. “It’s truly powerful, moving and captivating. And the conversation afterwards with this group was legendary. Thank you, Will Smith, for the preview.”

Barris also posted on his Instagram story, writing, “Emancipation is true art, power and everything else a film should be. You got one, Will Smith.”

Smith is currently banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 10 years due to his actions at the 2022 Oscars. The actor posted an apology video in July in which he called his actions “unacceptable.”

“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,”  Smith, who sighs deeply at points and seems to be fighting back tears, says in the video. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

Smith added, “It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out.”

“Emancipation” premieres in theaters on Dec. 2 and will stream on Apple TV+ starting Dec. 9.


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