Monday, July 4, 2022

Aunjanue Ellis on the Williams Family Legacy in ‘King Richard’ | Watch

*Aunjanue Ellis is a force to be reckoned with onscreen!

Over the past few years, we have watched her in roles ranging from the transformative Hippolyta Freeman in “Lovecraft Country” to guiding her daughters to musical heights as Dr. Mattie Moss Clark in Lifetime’s “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.”

This Friday in, “King Richard,” we see the actress portray another woman’s strong influence on her daughters and their road of greatness as Oracene “Brandy” Williams. The biographical drama explores the teen years of tennis superstars Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton) and the role their driven yet demanding father Richard (Will Smith) played in ensuring their greatness.

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KING RICHARD
(L-r) AUNJANUE ELLIS as Oracene “Brandy” Williams and DEMI SINGLETON as Serena Williams in Warner Bros. Pictures’ inspiring drama “KING RICHARD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Chiabella James

Ellis shared with us the one thing she took away from this story – the legacy the Williams family intentionally created. Not just within the game of tennis, but overall.

“When I think about them and the genius of the Williams family. It wasn’t just about playing tennis and to be as impactful as they were to the tennis world and tennis industry. But who they were to themselves…they were a family. I know what that is; I come from that. But what’s great is the world will see this loving family who did not apologize about who they were to anybody. A lot of families, but particularly Black families, will say, ‘see, we exist,'” said Ellis.

king richard
DANIELE LAWSON as Isha Price, DEMI SINGLETON as Serena Williams and AUNJANUE ELLIS as Oracene “Brandy” Williams in Warner Bros. Pictures’ inspiring drama “KING RICHARD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Ellis wasn’t familiar with Brandy’s backstory – she’d only seen her in the stands supporting her daughters over the years, “I would look at her hair and outfits, but I had no idea how involved she was in Serena’s career as a coach.”

king richard
AUNJANUE ELLIS as Oracene “Brandy” Williams in Warner Bros. Pictures’ inspiring drama “KING RICHARD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Ellis continued, “I didn’t get to talk to her or meet her. What I did was listen to recordings that director Reinaldo Marcus Green and our writer Zach Baylin put together. They had epic and extensive recordings of her, which allowed me to hear Ms. Oracene tell her own story. Not what someone else thought of her, but what she thought of herself. She was central in sculpting and designing the play of Serena. The play we see of Serena now, she was central to that. She said that came from her being an athlete herself. She used to play baseball. She talked about how she would come up for bat and the other team would be mad to see her coming. Because they knew she was going to hit the ball somewhere they couldn’t find it. What she did with these young women, she had an incredible sense of self in who she was and imparted that into her daughters. Even though, when she was in public with her husband, you would think she was this quiet and demure woman, but she was always really honest with him and didn’t take any s**t.”

“King Richard” arrives in theaters and on HBO Max November 19.

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