Will Smith Visits L.A. Lakers and Talks About Having ‘Gratitude in Times of Great Challenge’

Actor Will Smith joins the Warner Bros.  Pictures 'Focus';  premiered at TCL Chinese Theater on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Actor Will Smith attends the Warner Bros. Pictures ‘Focus’ premiere at TCL Chinese Theater on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Will Smith

Will Smith is making his return to acting and the public spotlight.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the actor, 54, who has kept quiet following his Oscars controversy in March, visited the team as part of the Lakers’ Genius Talks. The event is an annual conference where celebrities speak to the team to offer inspiration.

The Oscar winner was presented with a No. According to the Lakers, the actor spoke about “strength through togetherness, and practicing gratitude in times of great challenge.”

The team is currently in the middle of a losing season.

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Smith’s message is said to be inspired by “themes in his upcoming masterpiece film, Emancipation.”

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Also sharing the team photo, Smith wrote on Instagram: “Gave a sneak peek of #Emancipation to the @lakers and had a GREAT convo about the film for their Genius Series…big thanks to everyone who stopped by!! Next stop .” .. my @ seisers.”

Apple Original Films released the official trailer earlier this month for the film where Smith plays a man who escapes slavery and sets out on a quest for freedom.

At a screening of the film held in early October, Smith elaborated on the theme of the film and its message.

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“In my career I’ve turned down a lot of movies that were set in slavery,” Smith said at the screening, per The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a movie about slavery. This is a movie about freedom. This is a movie about resilience. This is a movie about faith. This is a movie about heart of a man – what could be called the first viral image. Cameras had just been made, and the image of a squirming Peter went around the world.”

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It is his first film since his incident at the 94th Academy Awards where he punched 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 award for best actor that night for his King Richard performance, he resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was finally banned from attending Academy events for a decade after the incident.

Smith won Best Actor at this year’s BET Awards in June, but did not attend the event.


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