Questlove reveals what it's like to get an Oscar immediately after the Will Smith slap

'I went through every emotion under the sun'
Questlove
Questlove Photo credit Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
By , Audacy

This week on the Life is Short podcast, producer, DJ, filmmaker, journalist, actor, and artist Questlove joins hosts and brothers Christian and Justin Long to get into the responsibilities of being a DJ, self-worth, and much more.

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Aside from being an iconic DJ, Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson is perhaps second-best known as the drummer and joint frontman for The Roots -- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s house band -- and he's steadily been making his way onto large and small screens with his film and acting work.

Questlove took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) in 2022, right after the now infamous "slappening" as he calls it -- when actor Will Smith landed a heavy one upon host Chris Rock after making a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. For those wondering exactly what it was like for Questlove, he says his past experiences with Bob Roth-style micro-meditation that Jerry Seinfeld turned him onto kept him almost blissfully unaware of what was happening the entire time.

"Two minutes before that moment," Questlove explains, "I'm already eyes closed... 'Ohmmmm' and I heard one expletive, looked at my mom like, 'wait, are they allowed to say that on national television?' I was like, "is that real or is that a sketch?' So, I went back to 'Ohmmmm'. As I'm walking to the podium, that's when I realized, 'wait, what just happened?' When I get on stage, half that perplexed look was me trying to figure out in record time, 'OK that wasn't a sketch,' and I gotta remember 17 names! Don't forget my mom, don't forget to thank my girl... all these things. So, I kinda did a Seinfeld. I was like, 'three seconds... just start talking,' and I don't know what I said."

"I'm probably in the fourth or third most viral moment in television history," he acknowledges. "Maybe I'm Charlie Brown, I'm not the star of my own Halloween special. But, I will say that everything that happened from that night on was a major life change, it was an impact that was necessary to shake me and wake me up to where it is now. I went through every emotion under the sun... but I do think I came out wiser for it. If you're asking me 'what was the main issue of that night,' in hindsight, yes the slap was traumatizing... but I will say that for me, I already had a bigger elephant in the room and that was the whole worthy of even being there in the first place."

Listen to the full episode with Questlove -- now streaming on Audacy.

Questlove's latest project, Descendant, is directed by filmmaker Margaret Brown and co-produced by his Roots bandmate Black Thought, and made its premiere at the virtual Sundance Film Festival in January 2022. Descendant depicts the legacy of Africatown and the Clotilde -- the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States illegally transporting enslaved Africans -- the remains of which were found in 2019, over 150 years after the its nefarious destruction.

Follow along as actor Justin Long gets personal with all kinds of people, from actors to musicians to deep thinkers who fascinate him, with his brother Christian on hand each episode to keep him honest, and occasionally remind him about some of the embarrassing things he's done over the years. Join us, or if you have more important things to do, that’s okay too — life is short!

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images