Will Smith Avoids Slave Films, Shares Difference Between "Emancipation" & "Django"

The award-winning actor was once up for the role of "Django," but he detailed wanting to be seen as a "superhero," not a vengeance-led slave.

BYErika Marie
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Throughout the history of the film industry, films centered around American slavery have often caused debates. Some critics believe that we have enough films about the enslaved struggle, while others don't think that those movies tell the truth about the actual horrors that existed. Whatever conversations may arise, tens of millions of movie fans storm theaters when a slavery feature is released, and for the better of Will Smith's career, he has avoided acting in them.

At the moment, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air icon is filming Emancipation where he portrays a runaway slave named Peter who flees a cruel Lousiana plantation only to return to help liberate others.

Carlos Alvarez / Stringer / Getty Images

“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery,” Smith revealed to GQ. “In the early part of my career... I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise. And the first time I considered it was Django [Unchained]. But I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance.”

Tarantino's "Django" was portrayed by Jamie Foxx who's incredible performance in the film is arguably one of his best. Although there was a romance storyline tied into Django's revenge, Smith shared what separates Emancipation and Tarantino's award-winning film.

“This was one that was about love and the power of Black love,” Smith said. “And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”


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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.