A new generation of stars is rising.
The new issue of Teen Vogue features young actors Saniyya Sidney and Jaden Michael on the cover, who are each playing real-life sports icons.
In “King Richard”, 15-year-old Sidney plays a young Venus Williams opposite Will Smith as her father.
“I think for my parents, they had a little bit of fear,” Sidney tells Smith. “I had to say, ‘I’m ready. I want you guys to be ready with me. Let me go out there and let me show you that I can do this.’ And my parents [had to] kind of step back a little and let me do me.”
READ MORE: Will Smith Says Waiting To Learn Venus & Serena Williams’ Reaction To ‘King Richard’ Was ‘The Worst Two Hours Ever’
“You were kind of in a similar situation on-camera and off-camera. Your father was having a hard time because you were suffering out there,” Smith says. “That’s one of the really difficult things with Richard. [It’s] where his genius was as a parent. It’s so scary. Finding that balance is such a thin line between the greatest love and support you could have for your child, getting them through their psychological and emotional [hurdles], but not creating trauma. It’s such a delicate balance.”
Talking about an emotional scene in which Venus tells her father that she wants to go pro, Smith says, “The important thing for me with that scene was to set an environment for you to be able to win. For me, the thing was to just be with you in that moment, to be able to connect. I had a similar moment like that with James Avery as Uncle Phil on the ‘Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air]’. He had been a rock for me in my first real, big, dramatic scene on ‘Fresh Prince’. I was trying to live up to what James was for me.”
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Michael plays a young Colin Kaepernick in Ava DuVernay’s new series “Colin in Black and White”.
He tells DuVernay, “There were a lot of things that I experienced through the show. I’ve never been to a real high school before or a real middle school before. I’d never played football. I’d never pitched a baseball before. And I never had prom or girlfriends. I experienced a lot of firsts through Colin.”
READ MORE: Netflix Unveils Official Teaser Trailer For Colin Kaepernick And Ava DuVernay’s ‘Colin In Black & White’
Despite their very different lives and upbringing, Michael managed to find a connection with Kaepernick.
“I’d never imagined that he and I could have anything in common. Lo and behold, while I’m doing my research and while I’m having conversations with Colin, I’m realizing how much we are alike,” he says. “And how much of our history and our childhoods have similarities as a biracial teen trying to understand why you feel separated or alienated. Or why you feel misrepresented in certain groups.”
He adds, “I asked Colin [about] his experience with his parents. He told me that he loves them unconditionally [and] that he recognizes all of their efforts raising him. How difficult it was…That hit me really, really hard. I didn’t expect that, especially after reading the script. I think I was putting in my own judgments toward the parents and I was sort of criticizing them because as you read the script [and] you’re like, ‘No, Teresa, you’re making the wrong decision.’ I thought that maybe Colin would know that they’re [making] the wrong decision and would in turn be upset by that.”
DuVernay says, “In a way, it’s regrettable that you even have to talk about normalizing [a] person. He’s been so fashioned as [a] spectacle, as the boogeyman by some people… For you to just really bring him down to eye level with people through your performance is one of the wonders of the performance.”