Will Smith Pulls Production Over Voting Law

April 13, 2021

By Stevenson Altidor

Will Smith is the latest figure to show his displeasure with new Georgia voting laws. According to a report by Deadline, Will Smith and director Antonie Fuqua are pulling production of their film, Emancipation, from the State in response to the new voting laws. 

Smith and Fuqua released a statement on Monday, expressing their frustration with the new law and the process behind the decision.

"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. "We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. 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 will portray a runaway slave named Peter, who escapes from a Louisiana plantation and evading fugitive hunters on his way north.  The film recounts the true story of "Whipped Peter.", most known for the photo known as "The Scourged Back" when Peter showed the injuries on his back during an Army medical examination. Apple won the bidding war over six different parties, buying the film for $130 million. 

This move comes after some discussion between filmmakers and Georgia political leaders. Notably, Tyler Perry and Stacy Abrams urged Hollywood filmmakers not to take away film production from the Peach State. Georgia Governor Brain Kemp signed the bill on March 31st in response to the 2020 election.