Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance‘s teenage son Slater ended his 2022 in the hot seat. The 16-year-old recently issued an emotional apology after participating in what he’s now calling a “harmful” online trend.
Before we wrapped 2022, TikTok users popularized a parent prank, which involves telling your folks that one of their favorite entertainers has passed away. The ‘pranksters’ start by pretending to read a headline–saying the celebrity’s name, followed by the phrase “dead at” and the celeb’s age.
When Slater participated in the trend, he named Bassett’s industry peer and former co-star Michael B. Jordan as the deceased. Both his participation and his mother’s reaction fueled heavy criticism online.
“I want to sincerely apologize for taking part in such a harmful trend. I apologize to Michael B. Jordan’s entire family, extended family, and him directly, as he is an idol of mine,” Slater said. “And taking part in a trend like this is completely disrespectful.”
Following Slater’s apology, Angela took to her Instagram to wish everyone a Happy New Year from her family, including a smiling Slater. She didn’t address the teen’s incident but instead started her caption with a “hey everybody, you good?”
Slater’s video, just a few seconds long, began with Bassett and her husband Vance walking out of a room, away from their child.
As they exited, the teenager called out to his parents, who turned around to face him. Slater then asked, “did you hear this, Michael B. Jordan dead at 35.”
Angela jumped at the news in obvious fear and began walking towards her son with her hand placed on her chest. She kept repeating, “uh uh uh uh” as if to say, “no, no, no.” Bassett’s eyes appeared to be watery as she approached Slater, attempting to peer at his phone.
Still seemingly oblivious to his mother’s heartbreaking reaction, Slater attempted to keep the ‘prank’ going. But his mother was already behind him, reaching for his recording phone and showing viewers Slater’s stifled smile. Meanwhile, Vance, who remained near his standing place when the recording started, yelled out, “stop it” and “you’re playing.” Before the clip cuts, Bassett is heard repeatedly saying, “what.”
It’s unclear how soon after Bassett and Vance learned that Slater was ‘pranking’ them. We’re also not sure what exactly his parents told him. However, in the apology video, Slater shielded them from responsibility. Instead, he blamed only himself and hoped others would learn from his error.
“I don’t wish any bad ramifications of this, of my actions, upon his family nor my parents, as they deserve none of the backlash,” Slater said. “I own this was a mistake, and I hope this can be a teaching lesson to anyone else who uses social media as a tool and source of entertainment to truly understand that your actions can have consequences that extend beyond you.”
The 16-year-old ended his response to the backlash with another series of apologies.
“I apologize for any hurt that my actions may have caused Mr. Jordan or my parents, or anyone else who could’ve been involved with this. I am truly, truly, and sincerely sorry and I apologize.”
The comment section of his TikTok apology video, posted to his account on December 31, was disabled. However, as of Tuesday (Jan. 3), it has nearly 80,000 views.
Michael B. Jordan has not publicly reacted to the teen’s ‘prank’ or his apologies. It’s also unknown if Angela or Courtney had Slater apologize directly to MBJ over the phone or in person.
The topic of death likely remains a sensitive one for both Bassett and Jordan. They both lost their former Black Panther co-star and friend Chadwick Boseman a little over two years ago. Boseman passed away from colon cancer on August 28, 2020, at age 43. Chadwick had been silently battling cancer since 2016 and died surrounded by his wife and family at his home.
Following Boseman’s death, MBJ released a message speaking on their friendship, which began long before Black Panther. He wrote, in part:
“I’ve been reflecting on every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug…everything. I wish we had more time. One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked , and now the truth of that means more to me than ever. Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning and constantly motivated by your greatness. I wish we had more time. Everything you’ve given the world … the legends and heroes that you’ve shown us we are … will live on forever.”
Angela also released a heartfelt message following the news.
“This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother…”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar…”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.”