How King Richard Perfectly Shines a Light on Black Fatherhood in America


Will Smith’s portrayal of Richard Williams is motivating and stunning, etching his legacy far beyond pre-existing generational barriers. Determined to do whatever he can to help his young daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) Williams, be the best in their respective tennis careers, King Richard challenges the long-standing negative portrayal of black fathers in cinematography as a whole.

For starters, black men have historically been openly stereotyped as deadbeat, non-existent and abusive characters, not just in movies, but in all mainstream media. Current stereotypes depict black male authority figures as drug dealers, thieves, or ruthless murderers. For black women, the label of the angry black woman, the silent housewife who suffers abuse from her husband, or the teenage mother who should embark on a journey filled with grief and socio-economic problems afflict our community.


Moreover, for black women, the centralized message alluding to “only if this poor young girl had her father in her life would she not have made the countless mistakes she has made” is both inciting and onerous. can no longer be false or derogatory. The biopic, which revolves around the early years of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, not only flashes back, depicting their arduous roads to stardom, but it also illustrates the boundless love and allegiance that their father Richard had. for his daughters, as he provided them with a glut of sporting resources.

King Richard demonstrates that black fathers are neither negative nor absent figures in the lives of their offspring. It also shows how black men actually support their children’s goals, making it a point to help them develop their skills. Throughout this analysis of King Richard and the character of Richard Williams, we illustrate how the film brings home the image of black fatherhood in America that has rarely been shown in previously acclaimed projects.

Black men participate in the lives of their children

King Richard
Pictures from Warner Bros.

It’s sad that this fact has to be reiterated in the first place, and quite frankly, it’s heartbreaking that black fathers have to distance themselves from this narrative. As King Richard tells the story of the Williams familyThrough their father’s lens, he battles financial and social adversity to provide Venus and Serena with the chance to play tennis on a professional main stage, in a sport traditionally dominated by white athletes, especially at a time. young age.

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Working full-time as a night security guard to take care of his family (while his wife takes the day shift at her nursing job), Richard religiously trains Venus and Serena during the day while also putting on the emphasis on the development of his children at school. , having fun and spending time with siblings, being kids first. Richard Williams is often shown in film as shielding his girl group from early and fierce media scrutiny. He builds his five daughters to be the best they can be (athletes, doctors, lawyers), while showing them that their father has their best interests at heart and will protect them, even if it means he has to suffer the consequences.

Through excessive hardship, Richard never gives up on his daughters

Will Smith
Pictures from Warner Bros.

Whether Venus or Serena won or lost a game, their father was always there in their corner, being dad first. As a viewer, it is refreshing to see how Richard strives to protect his children from the possibility of mental exhaustion in the professional world of tennis. Through various examples in the image, we can see other teenage girls who rank among the best in their sport, just to deal with mental and physical health issues. This result comes from the pressure of living under a great deal of praise and criticism and still being a child. Richard wants his daughters to get away from those pressures, even if it means taking them out of competitive matches.

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Looking back on the story of Richard, Venus, and Serena Williams, it’s refreshing to see the layers of humor and willingness to be vulnerable from all three characters throughout the film. For Richard, his authenticity and unwavering commitment to his daughters captures the essence of how strong he believed his daughters would go far in the sport, even in early times when no one else would try their luck. He also supports this dream by pushing his daughters further but without exhausting them.

No other person could have played this role better than will smith. His heightened level of dedication to the character is insane. Even when he was on set, he continued to play Richard’s accent and postures. The fact that it was so easy for him to fit into this role says a lot about his talents as an artist.

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