The biopic titled 'King Richard' is receiving mixed signals and reactions, and some are saying the colorism matters.
The internet has been raging over the casting of Will Smith to play the father of iconic tennis players Serena and Venus Williams in the biopic King Richard. And some of them are of the opinion that his casting is not a great idea - and they came out on the internet to express their dismay and dissatisfaction.
According to a lot of Twitter users, Will Smith's skin is not dark enough to resemble Richard Williams. Sports writer Clarence Hill Jr. took to Twitter to write, "Colorism matters. Love Will Smith but there are other black actors for this role."
Another user commented, "Sure Will Smith is black BUT he is a light-skinned black who is palatable to white audiences. Richard Williams is an outspoken dark-skinned black man. Yes, skin tone matters a lot on how you are treated in society."
EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith is poised to play Richard Williams, father of tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams https://t.co/JLDDCzOXxa— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) 4 March 2019
A third said: "I love Will Smith more than anyone but why not cast Mahershala Ali or somebody darker skinned like the man being portrayed actually is #DarkSkinMatters." Others also suggested that Idris Elba should play Richard, who was Serena and her sister Venus's tennis coach and manager.
Mahershala Ali isn’t available???— sandiesideup 🌈 (@sandiesideup) 4 March 2019
Another critic wrote that "Sure Will Smith is black BUT he is alight-skinned black who is palatable to white audiences," A lot of the people are feeling that this is a purist view on how much the skin matters.
According to Daily Mail, ‘King Richard’ will tell the rags-to-riches story of Williams, who began training his daughters in tennis from an early age to see them become two of the most successful players in history.
I love will but seriously?? Idris would have been perfect for this. pic.twitter.com/kWn20PMHXR— I write..😛💋💋 (@Ebonydiamonds19) 5 March 2019
While Hollywood is no stranger to race controversies, a lot of the people seem to have increasingly polarised opinions - saying that it is probably best that if white actors play white roles, black actors play black roles and Asian actors play Asian roles.
Actress Emma Stone found that out the hard way after playing an Asian role in ‘Aloha’ in 2016 and facing major backlash for the misstep. But now it seems that choosing a black actor for a black role is not quite good enough — and even promoting “colorism.”
Colorism matters..love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role https://t.co/qrV1QuBiJH— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) 5 March 2019
But if this tangent - of political correctness - were to be followed, some are speculating that Australian actors won’t be allowed to play American characters. Or if older actors won’t be allowed play younger roles. Furthermore, if straight actors won’t be allowed to play gay characters and gay actors won’t be able to play straight roles. The polarity might just make things a bit to strict to maintain and follow.
“Will Smith isn’t black enough”. Welcome to 2019 everybody.— Ryan (@46Rain2) 5 March 2019
According to RT.com, identity politics does seem to have an effect where more and more purist views are dominating the casting - Scarlett Johansson recently abandoned a transgender role after serious backlash from the outrage police because she herself is not transgender.
Similarly, black actress Zoe Saldana was accused of wearing “blackface” for her use of makeup when she played jazz musician Nina Simone in a 2016 biopic.
Well, Will Smith just doesn't match the skin colour of Richard Williams, you have to concede that 😉 pic.twitter.com/VZ2ukvk05t— Fabienne (@fabilusi) 5 March 2019
In the case of Smith, some Twitter users even offered that an “unknown” actor should be given a shot in the major Hollywood biopic. Another suggested that “literally any actor” with the correct shade of skin should have been given the role — suggestions sure to appeal to the production studio, which no doubt only cares about the artistic value of the movie and not the fact that Smith is one of the most acclaimed and bankable actors in Hollywood who can attract a wide audience.
Like did we run out of dark skin black men??? Did the rapture snatch em all up??? I’m confused pic.twitter.com/PYYxnfDd0B— PettyByNature💋 (@xoxopettygal) 5 March 2019
However, it is not all bad for Will Smith, as some supporters did come out to defend the actor. One Twitter user wrote, "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!"
Another user shared, "So now you've got to be black as coal to be black. Will Smith is a fantastic actor." A third supporter commented, "I cannot believe people are actually saying he is not dark enough. These days people have just lost their minds."
A movie about Richard Williams is not a summer blockbuster, it's an for your consideration oscar film. His biography is legendary and needs to be captured by someone with the acting chops to pull it off PLUS close to his likeness.— All Of Us Together (@bpbeaware) 5 March 2019
The biopic 'King Richard' will follow the story of Richard Williams and how he helped his two young daughters rise to fame, all from the courts of Compton, California. Legendary tennis star Serena Williams has gone on to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles while her sister Venus has won seven Grand Slam singles.
Will Smith is also one of the producers of the biopic. 'King Richard' is based on a script written by Zach Baylin, which was a runner-up on the 2018 Black List.