Posted on March 5, 2019

Will Smith’s Rumored New Role Is Causing Controversy — Because of His Skin Color

Erin Donnelly, Yahoo!, March 5, 2019

{snip} Deadline reports that [Will Smith] 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.