Following The Legend of Bagger Vance and Ali, Will Smith is reportedly in talks to take on another sports film. Deadline reports that the Oscar-nominated actor is “poised to play” Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in an upcoming biopic titled King Richard.
While Smith certainly has the star power to headline the film about Williams’s determination to turn his two Compton-raised daughters into tennis champions, his rumored casting has already been met with some backlash. While Smith and Williams are both black men, critics say the role should go to an actor with darker skin, citing Idris Elba and Mahershala Ali as examples of more appropriate choices.
Some have compared the casting reports to Zoë Saldana’s portrayal of singer Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic Nina, for which the actress controversially wore dark makeup and a prosthetic nose. Others have brought up Scarlett Johansson, whose role in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell sparked accusations of whitewashing.
“Colorism matters,” sports writer Clarence Hill Jr. said of the importance of casting an actor with darker skin to play the 77-year-old Williams.
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
Will Smith is about to be the Scarlett Johansson of black movies 😭😩 https://t.co/O1F0vLhO6p
— Tanyaradzwa 💕 (@MsSmileSoBright) March 5, 2019
I love Will Smith as an actor but this ain't it https://t.co/338cvlR6Vf
— JusticeLeagueV🇨🇵 (@AbelPatson) March 5, 2019
But not everyone agrees. The negative reactions have been slammed by many Smith fans and movie buffs who say that critics shouldn’t quibble over the exact shade of his skin.
This is really pathetic and sad. He is an awesome actor and will play hell out of it. Doesn’t matter his skin color. It’s the talent!!
— Fearless (@sasyncurvacious) March 5, 2019
I don’t care if Will Smith is not dark enough for this role! I’m still going to watch it 💁🏾♂️. Y’all didn’t say nothing when white people played Jesus. pic.twitter.com/yLP2OV11Se
— Joseph Jalil Fields (@JalilJoseph) March 5, 2019
People complaining about Will Smith not being the right shade of black to play a role pic.twitter.com/aPqZF1fYie
— OJ Pimpson (@Mattheveli) March 5, 2019
So let me understand that a black man can only play a black man now if he is the right shade of black. So that case Denzel Washington should never have played Malcom x.We as black people only brings ourselves down,
— seketee (@shine254) March 5, 2019
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