Questlove Reacts to Winning an Oscar Right After Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock
By Rachel McRady
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Sunday marked a big night for Questlove. The 51-year-old musician, whose real name is Ahmir Khalib Thompson, took home the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for his work directing the musical documentary, Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), at the 94th annual Academy Awards.
The moment was sadly overshadowed by the events that took place minutes before when Will Smith took to the stage to slap comedian Chris Rock across the face for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Following a commercial break, Rock then proceeded to present the Oscar to Questlove.
On Monday's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Questlove talked about the experience of winning the Oscar and his lack of awareness to the chaos that proceeded the moment.
"Of course, that happened in the cyclone of a whole other situation with two very good friends of mine," Questlove said, referencing Smith and Rock. "I really wasn't aware of that. It's weird to say, because they tell you ahead of time, 'This is your category,' so in that moment, you're either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I've been meditating for the last two years."
Questlove said he was meditating in his seat during the slap and the commercial break that followed, noting, "So when I opened my eyes, I was like, 'Why is everyone so quiet?' I literally was not present for that whole entire moment."
He added that it didn't dawn on him until the last minute what exactly had happened.
"As I'm walking to the stage, I'm kind of putting two and two together, and I realize that that was a real moment maybe three seconds before I spoke words," he shared. "But in my mind they're just doing a sketch or whatever and I'm like, 'OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, dad,' so I was not present at all."
As for what was going through Questlove's mind as he sat next to his mother, Jacqui Andrews, the moment his name was called, he said, "We were the only two people. It was that moment that I realized, we went through so much from them sacrificing to put me into music school. It was either our bills or my future. I just thought about all those moments."
To offset his nerves for the big night, Questlove said he took the ultimate gig to distract himself.
"When you're nominated for an Oscar and it's that far in advance, anxiety starts to set in and for me. I was wise enough to figure out how to distract myself from this moment," he said. "To do the JAY-Z-Beyonce Gold Party is one hardest things ever to do in life, to please that many people. Once I accepted that gig, I was like, 'What Oscar?'"