Will Smith is certainly a favorite in Hollywood. The former Fresh Prince has amazing talent, undeniable charisma, and a ridiculously intense approach to work ethic. To top it all off, his Instagram game is on point and he appears to have an amazing family and support system. But despite all his positive attributes, Smith is not immune to criticism and he just got called out in a major way for not doing this one thing.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, the multi-talented Lena Waithe called out Smith for not doing enough to support Black films. Waithe, who is the mastermind producer behind great works like Dear White People, Queen & Slim and the creator of The Chi, expressed her struggle with finding the proper funding to bring Black stories to life on the big screen. She voiced disappointment in Smith and other huge and well-respected, male, actors like Denzel Washington, for not using their resources to help further the black narrative.
“Don’t get me started on black financiers! How many of those do we have? I’m not [going to name] names because I know better, but there are some very big black movie stars out there, and they could pay for two or three or even five small independent movies to get made by black directors and black writers” Waithe said passionately.
But the 35-year-old actress didn’t stop there. She was quick to give examples about just who has funded some of the most pivotal Black films in recent years. Citing wildly successful films like Moonlight and 12 Years A Slave, Waithe pointed out they were both funded by Plan B, which is a production company founded by Brad Pitt.
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“Wasn’t Denzel. Wasn’t Will Smith,” Waithe said of the actors with production companies that have been throwing their support behind Black films. “You won’t catch me making $20 million a movie and not paying for at least four or five independent movies a year,” she said adamantly, throwing an additional layer of judgment at Smith who is slated to earn more than that for his most recent performance as the Genie in Aladdin.
Waithe then goes on to credit those who she feels are out in the field using their power and influence to create Black films. “I do give credit to Ava [DuVernay] for trying to build something that hasn’t been built before, but that’s a lot on Ava’s back” the actress states. However, Waithe also notes that it can’t be just the responsibility of Black women, and states that she’d love to see more Black men get involved.
“I’m over here trying to build a community, and I don’t see other people doing it. I really do feel like there’s a way for us to change the movie business from the inside out, but we’re all in our own silos doing our own thing. We’re definitely in the middle of a renaissance, make no mistake. In 20 years, people are going to be writing about what you’re writing about. But for me, I want more” Waithe said, stating her own personal ethos.
Thus far, Smith has yet to comment on the call out. However, a rep of Washington’s has declined to comment. We don’t necessarily see Smith commenting on this matter either. Though we’d have to admit, we’d love to see some discourse around this very subject on an episode of Red Table Talk.
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