A number of critics are taking issue with the casting of Will Smith in the upcoming film King Richard saying he isn’t black enough. Smith has been cast to play tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams.
A number of these critics believe the role should go to another actor who has darker skin.
George M. Johnson who has worked for ET, TeenVogue, and NBC saying that “Will should not play Richard.” He adds, “skin color matters in how folk were treated and navigated spaces.”
Just like Chadwick shouldn’t have played Thurgood Marshall, Will should not play Richard
Skin color matters in how folk were treated and navigated spaces. Is Alexandra Shipp playing Venus? https://t.co/iNtikcsIoT
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) March 4, 2019
Johnson would not be the only one to take issue with Will Smith’s skin tone. Clarkisha Kent, who writes for Essence and the Huffington Post, asked, “Was Don Cheadle busy? Was Michael K. Williams unreachable???” She then states, “Jesus Christ, y’all won’t let colorism go.”
Was Don Cheadle busy? Was Michael K. Williams unreachable??? Jesus Christ, y’all won’t let colorism go 🙄 https://t.co/daiDVsPtZm
— Clarkisha Kent: This One Lady (@IWriteAllDay_) March 5, 2019
Clarence Hill Jr. writer and reporter who covers sports and the Dallas Cowboys since the late 90s was a bit kinder with his criticism of Will Smith’s involvement in the role. However, he stated, “there are other black actors for this role.”
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
Screenwriter and writer at Nerds of Color, Valerie Complex just simply stated “colorism at work.”
colorism at work…. https://t.co/YsxlKjDVoh
— valerie complex (@ValerieComplex) March 4, 2019
Freelance writer Scott Beggs tried to add some humor to his criticism writing, “Siri, show me a perfect example of colorism.”
Siri, show me a perfect example of colorism. https://t.co/clB0SdX7Dr
— Scott Beggs (@scottmbeggs) March 5, 2019
Following the announcement of Smith’s role Rebecca Theodore-Vachon demanded Vthe “actresses they cast for Venus and Serena better be darker skinned or there’s gonna be problems.”
..all I know is the actresses they cast for Venus and Serena better be darker skinned or there’s gonna be problems
— Rebecca Theodore-Vachon (@FilmFatale_NYC) March 4, 2019
A number of people would push back on the idea that Will Smith isn’t black enough for the role.
Colorism isn’t even a word. Smh
— Jay B (@Anime_Heel) March 5, 2019
But who’s better for the role than Will Smith if you want a hit?
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) March 5, 2019
Maybe..just maybe..he got the job not because of the color is his skin, but the content of his character! (And his acting skills)
— Taylor (@fabelataylor) March 5, 2019
Maybe the people that are putting together the movie and financing wanted Will Smith because they like his acting chops. Jeez…for all of the shit to get bent on, this is low on the list. WTF? Colorism?
— Deplorable Texan (@DeplorableTexan) March 5, 2019
And of course some people just outright mocked the idea that Smith isn’t black enough for the role.
I’m just upset that they didn’t choose a real genie for Aladdin or at the very least someone blue, like a smurf. pic.twitter.com/vbMu03qpMT
— The Grumpy Munchkins (@grumpEmunchkins) March 5, 2019
Scarlett Johansson will be playing both Venus and Serena.
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) March 4, 2019
This casting controversy is the latest to plague Hollywood. Scarlett Johansson recently removed herself from the lead role in Rub and Tug where she was scheduled to play gangster Dante “Tex” Gill, who was born a female but dressed like a man. Johansson came under heavy pressure from a number of transgender actors and their supporters.
She said in part: “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
Guardians of the Galaxy star Zoe Saldana faced similar accusations to Smith when the trailer for the biopic on Nina Simone was released back in 2016. Some even accused her of blackface.
What do you make of these critics claiming Will Smith isn’t black enough to play Richard Williams? Do you agree with them or do you think they are completely wrong?