Will Smith has pulled production of his upcoming film “Emancipation” out of Georgia after the state passed a new voting law that has been decried as a legal voter suppression tactic to make it harder for Black people to vote in the state. Smith made the decision in conjunction with director Antoine Fuqua, according to the New York Times.
“At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” Smith and Fuqua said in a joint statement on Monday, April 12. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”
The move makes Smith and Fuqua the first Hollywood production to leave the state in protest of the new law, which makes things like giving water to voters standing in line illegal.
“The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state,” Smith and Fuqua’s statement continued.
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An Apple Studios project, the film is a slavery-era drama in which Smith is set to portray real-life former slave known as Peter, who escaped to the North and joined the Union Army. Peter rose to fame after a photo of his back marred by scars from beatings appeared in Harper’s Bazaar. It was set to begin production in June.
Opinions on Smith and Fuqua’s decision were divided on social media. Some celebrated the duo for leaving, while others bashed the move.
“Good. Take EVERYTHING away from Georgia until the Republican criminals currently hijacking the State scrap their evil voter suppression scheme,” one user tweeted. “Good for him. I wouldn’t go to Georgia if it was the last place on earth. Oh except to hand out water bottles at the next election. I’m definitely doing that,” tweeted another.
“A shame the people of Georgia who have nothing to do with it are losing out. But divesting is good. I won’t use any products related to companies run or owned by a republican. They don’t believe in regulations or protecting the public. I cannot trust their products or judgment,” added another.
“Will Smith, just let me just remind you that any business you pull from Georgia hurts working-class black people more than it does your white Hollywood masters, Lavern Spicer tweeted.
Smith and Fuqua have reportedly relocated the production to Louisiana, but some have pointed out doing so defeats the purpose as that state’s voter laws are just as bad or worse.
“Will Smith yanks his film project out of Georgia over the state’s voter ID law. He relocated the movie project to Louisiana – which has an even stricter voter ID law. You showed them, Will Smith,” Todd Starnes tweeted.
“Louisiana is just as bleak. Can’t see why #WillSmith doesn’t just shoot on a sound stage or on in front of a green screen like yesteryear,” another user tweeted. “Voter suppression rampant, LA leaders appeal emergency voter measures.”
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