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Will Smith’s new dad role in Williams sisters’ biopic brings up heated colorism debate

Film lovers do not approve of the choice of Will Smith for the role of Venus and Serena Williams’ father.

The highly anticipated upcoming biopic about the father of Serena and Venus Williams is the subject to controversy after people criticized the choice of Will Smith to play the lead role in ‘King Richard’.

Smith’s reported casting in the film has angered critics, who say he is too light-skinned for the part although the multi-talented actor has not yet commented on the reported casting or the criticism.

Colorism is a form of discrimination against dark-skinned people in favor of those with lighter skin from the same race. According to a BBC report, it can lead to a lack of representation in film, TV, and fashion, particularly in Hollywood and Bollywood. Furthermore, complexion-based discrimination often features at places of work or on dating sites and even leads many to face health problems from skin bleaching creams.

In the article, BBC sighted a tweet by US-based sports writer Clarence Hill Jr who said that “colorism matters”, and said that Smith wasn’t the right choice.

This sentiment was echoed by many others, who felt that giving the part to a dark-skinned actor would “make more sense”. People also suggested other actors who could take on the role – including Idris Elba, and Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali.

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This isn’t the first time a Hollywood film has become embroiled in a colorism row. The casting of Zoe Saldana, a light-skinned actor of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, as the African-American civil rights activist and musician Nina Simone in 2016 sparked similar criticism.

Richard Williams, 77, coached his daughters to become two of the world’s greatest tennis players, despite having no previous experience of the game.

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