Earlier this week, we reported that Will Smith is slated to portray Richard Williams, the father of tennis titans Venus and Serena Williams, for a film titled King Richard. It’s safe to say this news didn’t boil over well online.

Criticism surrounding Smith’s casting flooded the internet immediately. Smith’s casting has been cited as a classic case of colorism. Many are criticizing the decision to cast Smith, a lighter-skinned Black man, as the choice to portray Richard Williams, a dark-skinned Black man. The criticism echoes the controversy surrounding the casting of Zoe Saldana in the role of Nina Simone. Last October, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was at the center of controversy when it was announced that he was slated to play Black American folk hero John Henry, a figure that has been depicted as dark-skinned, in an upcoming Netflix film, John Henry and the Statesmen. 

Twitter relayed a variety of options for the role of Richard Williams, such as Michael K. Williams, two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and This Is Us fave Sterling K. Brown. There are many, many options when it comes to getting someone who has a resemblance to Williams.

This casting announcement isn’t even the first time that colorism has reared its head in the past few weeks. After the first trailer dropped for The Sun Is Also a Star, questions arose surrounding Yara Shahidi, who is not Jamaican, being cast as a Jamaican teen with dark-skinned parents.

Check out some of the Twitter responses to Smith’s casting below:


‘King Richard’: Will Smith To Play Father Of Venus And Serena Williams In Film

Colorism Is a Complex Problem, But The Fight Continues

Is Colorism ‘Also A Star’ In Yara Shahidi’s New YA Film? [Opinion]

Him? Dwayne Johnson’s Casting As Black Folk Legend John Henry Causes Backlash 


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images