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The Director of ‘King Richard’ Is Black and Latino, and This is How His Upbringing Impacted His Career

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If you’re a fan of the Williams sisters, or a fan of Will Smith, or both, you’ve probably been dying to see the new “King Richard” movie (if you haven’t already). The movie tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, as he tried to mold his two daughters into the greatest tennis players in the world while living in the violent and poverty-stricken city of Compton, California in the ’90s.

The movie is being critically hailed as “an engrossing family drama,” with Will Smith being especially praised for his “outstanding” portrayal of Richard Williams. But Smith isn’t the only one being recognized for his work. Critics are also recognizing the film’s director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, for his “enormously satisfying” work directing the film.

The buzz around Green is especially exciting because he is a Black and Puerto Rican filmmaker from New York City. Green was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father — a similar parentage to many Nuyoricans.

But despite having a mixed family, things weren’t always easy in the Green household. “I remember that my Puerto Rican grandmother didn’t approve of my African-American father, so it was a struggle for them to get married, and that struggle might have destroyed my parent’s marriage,” Green told Remezcla in 2018.

But that struggle gave Green a unique perspective on the world, and racial politics in particular. His mixed heritage may have helped him tackle his feature debut, “Monsters and Men.” The 2018 film followed the story of a Latino man (played by Anthony Ramos) in Brooklyn who witnesses the killing of an unarmed Black man by a police officer.

“To me, I was just bringing my own personal connection to that into the film,” he told Remezcla. “I grew up in a household where I had both, so I was able to tap into both cultures in a way that maybe someone else couldn’t.”

It’s not often that Latinos have the chance to helm a movie of this caliber that is so universally lauded. Industry experts are already predicting an Oscar nomination for Green — a rare feat for an Afro-Latinx director.

For his part, Green understands that representation is of the utmost importance when it comes to Hollywood. But he also believes that pandering to minorities through empty tokenism isn’t the way to fix the problem.

“What you may see now is let’s put a Black person in the lead, or let’s get a Latino,” he told NBC News recently. “But it’s not written for us. It’s written for someone else and it’s being slotted. As opposed to stories being generated for us. And I think hopefully that’s the next wave of films.”

Well, one thing’s for sure: if filmmakers of color continue to be allowed to sit in the director’s chair when it comes to POC’s stories, movie and television are destined to feature characters that are fully-fleshed, three-dimensional people and not inaccurate or offensive stereotypes. We, for one, can’t wait to see what Reinaldo Marcus Green does next.

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