Jason Merritt/Getty Will Smith
Will Smith is returning to acting and the public eye.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the actor, 54, who went silent following his Oscars debacle in March, visited the team as part of the Lakers’ Genius Conversation. The event is an annual conference where celebrities speak to the team to provide inspiration.
The Oscar winner was presented with jersey number 14 of the Lakers and was photographed with the team by the team’s owner, Jeanie Buss, and general manager, Rob Pelinka. According to the Lakers, the actor spoke about “strength through unity, and practicing gratitude in times of great challenge.”
The team is currently in the midst of a losing season.
Smith’s message is said to have been inspired by “a theme in his upcoming blockbuster, Redemption.”
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Also sharing a photo together, Smith wrote on Instagram: “I gave a sneak peek of #Emancipation to the @lakers and we had a GREAT conversation about their Genius Series movie… big thanx to everyone who came!! Next stop… my @ sita.”
Apple Original Films released the official trailer for the film earlier this month in which 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 explained the film’s theme and message.
“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down a lot of movies that were set in slavery,” Smith said on the show. The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us that. And then this picture came out. And this is not a slavery film. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about perseverance. This is a film about faith. A film about the heart of a man – what can be called the first picture of viral. The cameras had just been set up, and the picture of Peter taken went around the world.”
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It’s his first film since his performance at the 94th Academy Awards where he blasted 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 Best Actor award that night for his King Richard performance, he resigned from the College of Fine Arts and Sciences and was eventually banned from attending College events for a decade following the incident.
Smith won Best Actress at this year’s BET Awards in June but did not attend the event.