Determined is a word you will hear many times when speaking of the Williams family and their hard-won Mount Olympus status in the world of tennis, but determination of sportsmanship is far from the only thing at play in Zach Baylin’s stunning “King Richard” script.
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More than anything, it is the determination of Black fatherhood that struck me most deeply as it is a parenthood that we are scarcely treated to this robustly and luxuriously on screen. The detail of its joyousness tempered with caution, so tender from the cuts of the knowledge of the unkind world that faces Black children and Black daughters especially. The brightness of our fathers’ righteous desires for our light shine as brightly as phosphorus but accompanied by the bitter fear cloying in the back of their throat as their hand is forced to prepare us for the world that will not treat us softly as our blue-eyed counterparts.
But it is in capturing this dichotomy so elegantly that “King Richard” expresses not only the complication of Black fatherhood, but the very basic struggle of anyone who has ever loved a child. The tug of war between tough love and tenderness and the oh-so-simple hope of every parent in wanting to provide just a little more than they had themselves. To give them the chance to see themselves in the world more clearly than they were allowed to. To divine themselves, unencumbered.
Blackett is a screenwriter and performer known for her work on “Skins,” “New Girl,” “The Newsroom” and the upcoming feature “Praise This.”
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