Fans are concerned Will Smith is too ‘light-skinned’ for the role of Richard Williams, who battled adversities on the tennis courts of Compton to raise daughters Venus and Serena into legendary athletes.
Twitter is divided on the social implications that the casting choice for Richard Williams, 77, will send in his upcoming biopic King Richard, as Will Smith, 50, was picked for the role. While they don’t take issue with Will personally, some fans are worried that Will’s appearance won’t accurately portray the adversity Richard faced in training his daughters Serena and Venus Williams to become the Grand Slam champions they are today, in a sport that’s predominantly white. With no professional background in tennis, Richard began giving his daughters lessons on the public courts of Compton when they were four years old. Other critics complained that other actors were allegedly overlooked because of colorism.
“I feel like will smith vying to play serena and venus’ father is one of those situations where light skinned BP should leave sh*t alone. i think richard williams skin color is super relevant and related to the way his daughters were treated when they were young,” one fan tweeted. Another moviegoer wrote, “I just spent 13 sec looking to the left and right in rapid succession. I dig Will immensely but plenty other brothas that could better portray Mr Williams in appearance,” as other fans suggested actors like Idris Elba, Mahershala Ali and Don Cheadle would’ve been more sensible choices. Another fan echoed that thought, writing, “Hollywood literally thinks theres only 2-3 black actors on earth. I understand not turning away money but there has to be a line not to cross.”
Sports writer Clarence Hill Jr especially got a lot of retweets after writing, “Colorism matters..love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role.” Unlike racism, which tackles prejudice between different races, colorism fights the battle of some people within the same race receiving better treatment than others based on their skin color. It’s not the first time Will sparked controversy over a movie role, after fans complained he wasn’t blue while promoting Aladdin on an Entertainment Weekly cover (he will play the role of Genie).
Colorism matters..love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role https://t.co/qrV1QuBiJH
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) March 5, 2019
However, one fan pointed out that Will’s fierce dedication to his family helps him “relate” to Richard, as The Pursuit of Happiness star has three children: Jaden, 20, Willow, 18, and Trey, 26. “Will Smith doesn’t look like @Venuseswilliams and @serenawilliams dad but he can relate to him. He had two successful kids too. And he was great in Pursuit of Happiness,” the fan tweeted. Overbrook Entertainment, which Will and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith serve as partners on, is also helping to produce the upcoming biopic.