By Tyler McCarthy
Published March 06, 2019
Actor Will Smith is catching serious backlash over colorism for his lighter skin tone after being cast as Richard Williams, father of famed tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
According to a report from Deadline, Smith will play Richard in the upcoming film "King Richard," based on a spec script by Zach Baylin. The film will tell the story of the 77-year-old Williams, who, despite having no formal tennis experience, overcame many hardships and a troubled past to raise and coach two of the greatest competitors to ever play the game.
However, news of the casting was met with controversy on social media after sports writer Clarence Hill Jr. tweeted a rebuke of the news noting that colorism, discrimination based solely on the color and tone of one’s skin, was at work.
“Colorism matters,” he wrote. “love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role.”
Journalist George M. Johnson echoed those sentiments saying: "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?"
Other users were quick to criticize Smith on social media soon after the announcement.
"Obviously nothing against Will Smith, but why is he playing Venus and Serena's Father?? Yes, the man can act but for the love of God there are dark-skinned Black men that can act too," one user wrote. "They can get one these men to do it or maybe even give an unknown actor a shot."
"Will Smith is tapped to play Richard Williams in "King Richard," a biopic of Venus and Serena's dad. Maybe Ariana Grande can play Serena? Why not?" wrote another.
Neither representatives for Smith nor the Williams sisters immediately responded to Fox News' request for comment.
This isn't the first time in recent memory that Smith has garnered some hate online over his film roles. After he was revealed as the blue-faced genie from the upcoming live-action adaptation of "Aladdin," fans of the original portrayal by Robin Williams were quick to sling some hate online.