Carolyn spoke with local station 6ABC Philadelphia about her son's big night, first gushing over his Best Actor win for his role in King Richard.
"I know how he works, how hard he works, and he never half steps. Just to see him waiting and waiting and waiting and when I heard the name, I was just like, 'Yes!'" she recalled, sharing that Will's extended family was cheering him on from their home in West Philadelphia during Sunday night's Oscars.
However, the incident that preceded the win took Carolyn by surprise. Earlier in the ceremony, Will took to the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face after the comedian made a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
"He is a very even people person and that's the first time I've ever seen him go off, the first time in his life," Carolyn insisted.
"It surprised you too, huh?" the reporter asked Will's mother.
"It did, it did," she replied. "I've never seen him do that."
Will's sister, Ellen Smith, also spoke about the moment, noting the adversity her brother has faced to get to where he is today.
"People's like, 'Oh, I wish I was in such in such's shoes or oh those are my goals and everything.' But you really don't know what it takes to get there," Ellen said. "And I've had conversations with him and it really kind of broke my heart listening to the things he said he had to go through to get to where he is."
Will's mother noted that she's "proud of him being him," and the reporter shared that Carolyn's advice to her son after his Oscar night was, "Get some rest and go on vacation."
In the wake of Will's slap, a portion of his self-titled autobiography has been highlighted, which focuses on Will witnessing his late father, Willard Smith, Sr., physically abusing his mother.
“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed,” he wrote. “I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.”
He continued, "Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day. For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward."
On Monday evening, Will issued a public apology to Rock and the Academy, writing, "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a "formal review" of the incident to "explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law."