Will Smith is slated to take on the role of Richard Williams, Venus and Serena Williams' father, and legendary tennis coach in an upcoming movie.
However, the choice of Smith is inspiring discussion around a topic that we so often ignore in Hollywood: colorism.
What is colorism, you ask?
Now, some of you well intentioned white people out there may be saying, "What's the issue? Will Smith is black."
Well, you're not wrong, but check out the difference between he and Richard Williams:
EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith is poised to play Richard Williams, father of tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams https://t.co/JLDDCzOXxa— Deadline Hollywood (@Deadline Hollywood)1551733951.0
Comparatively, Will Smith has MUCH lighter skin. And it is an issue.
It almost communicates, "well I'm only comfortable with a certain shade of black people in my movies."
Colorism matters..love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role https://t.co/qrV1QuBiJH— Clarence Hill Jr (@Clarence Hill Jr)1551764819.0
im getting real tired of seeing dark skinned people/characters played by light skinned ones https://t.co/lKIIMTOpXC— tina 🧚🏽♀️ (@tina 🧚🏽♀️)1551747898.0
Scarlett Johansson might as well play Venus with this kind of mess casting https://t.co/GmDItxrjJm— Candis R McLean (@Candis R McLean)1551747856.0
Why is he always cast in roles portraying dark skin men like there aren’t tons of black actors that would make more… https://t.co/sOQqk6vbzB— Pikliz Papi (@Pikliz Papi)1551746531.0
?? was mahershala not available or any other darker skinned male actor ever?? https://t.co/tBNwgxl8hj— e (@e)1551745782.0
The movie, entitled King Richard, written by Zach Baylin, was meant to be a biopic about the story of Richard Williams.
According to Indiewire:
"The story of Richard Williams is notable as he had no prior tennis experience before coaching Venus and Serena, inarguably two of the greatest tennis players in history."
I think Will Smith is a talented actor (I'm a fan of a lot of the stuff he's done). But they couldn't find a darker… https://t.co/HFeMWn6AMB— The Live Revolution (@The Live Revolution)1551736225.0
Will Smith playing Richard Williams. Interesting. But I'm more interested to see how Scarlett Johansson plays Serena.— Andrew Atkinson (@Andrew Atkinson)1551749501.0
A light(er) skinned man like Will Smith playing Richard Williams is like Zendaya playing Harriet Tubman. You thin… https://t.co/yaOhleXknM— James Earl Jonesin’ (@James Earl Jonesin’)1551840566.0
@etnow Richard Williams is beautifully dark-skinned. Will Smith is beautifully not. Y’all gotta rethink this one.— Gandalf, Stormcrow. (@Gandalf, Stormcrow.)1551797942.0
colorism at work.... https://t.co/YsxlKjDVoh— valerie complex (@valerie complex)1551742908.0
Just like Chadwick shouldn’t have played Thurgood Marshall, Will should not play Richard Skin color matters in ho… https://t.co/ZQZEUWVzkL— George M Johnson (@George M Johnson)1551743255.0
Some people have also drawn on Zoe Saldana's casting as Nina Simone in NINA, where makeup was actually applied to the actress to give her darker skin.
@Maria_Mouskos Worse than Zoe Saldana as Nina?— Ronnie Danquah (@Ronnie Danquah)1551782157.0
@FilmFatale_NYC And who can forget that Nina Simone movie with Zoe Saldana??? Uh oh — 🚨🚨🚨😳— Omar Moore (@Omar Moore)1551844029.0
@DarriccLondon This also happen with the Nina Simone movie with Zoe Saldana— nikole (@nikole)1551838650.0
Remember when everyone was allowed to be upset with Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone? Why is no one allowed to be up… https://t.co/LyiyGLBits— Nic Costanza (@Nic Costanza)1551804754.0
@iamaaronhorne @gloomychihuahua @MizzyII @latimesent @latimes The movie Nina faced huge backlash when they casted Z… https://t.co/avXaERZEmI— kairrusin (@kairrusin)1551826437.0
this is like when Zoe Saldana was tryna play Nina Simone https://t.co/XGsSeDgPTk— ⚜️ slim gem. (@⚜️ slim gem.)1551842297.0
Either way, fans are hoping to send a clear message: colorism is NOT okay.
@KingInMyOwnMind Lmao, nothing fake woke about it. People have eyes. Will Smith is 5 shades lighter than Richard Wi… https://t.co/FpY8K5lZZX— niknikky (@niknikky)1551841907.0
The thing about colorism and Will Smith/Richard Williams is that a lot of yall don't want to talk about it because… https://t.co/XuK55adBkU— Ta'les Love (@Ta'les Love)1551801222.0
No Will Smith. You are not the complexion of Richard Williams who shares nearly the same hue as Janet Louise Hubert… https://t.co/bR8eegtn1s— FemFilmRogue (@FemFilmRogue)1551748046.0
And people believe that Richard Williams, who "overcame tremendous hardship, skepticism and his own troubled past to raise two of the game's greatest players,"even making "a 78-page plan for [Serena and Venus'] professional tennis careers," deserves better.
It is certainly an important conversation to have, as it's one often ignored by the greater Hollywood audience. Inclusion doesn't end at generalities.