The much buzzed about film King Richard starring Will Smith, Jon Bernthal and Tony Goldwyn premieres on today on HBO Max and in theaters about the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. It marks a significant moment for the film’s director, Afro-Latino Reinaldo Marcus Green, who is best known for independent films like, Monsters and Men and the documentary, Amend: The Fight for America. King Richard is only Reinaldo’s second major motion picture, and it’s one that is already garnering major Oscars attention.
Reinaldo is half African American and half Puerto Rican and we’re all about celebrating Latinx and Afro-Latinx wins which are continually underrepresented in Hollywood. We wanted to know more about the barrier-breaking filmmaker and celebrate his career and accomplishments, so here are five facts about King Richard‘s Afro-Latino director, Reinaldo Marcus Green.
Reinaldo is a New Yorker.
Reinaldo was born and raised in New York City to a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father. He ended up graduating from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and also has a master’s degree in education, and has worked as an adjunct teacher at Tisch.
His brother is also a filmmaker.
Reinaldo’s brother, Rashaad Ernesto Green, is also a filmmaker, and Reinaldo actually credits him with getting him into the industry. Reinaldo had been trying to figure out what he wanted for his future after working on Wall Street for awhile, when he started to feel curious about Rashaad’s work.
“My brother, Rashaad Ernesto Green, was becoming a filmmaker at the time, and I was helping him from afar, supporting him, going to the set on weekends. He even put me in a couple of his films as an actor. One of them went to Sundance, which was sort of amazing. I started thinking there might be a career there. So really, my entry point into film was my brother,” he told Musicbled Blog. While he was studying at Tisch, Reinaldo and Rashaad continued to work on films together.
He’s experienced Sundance success.
Reinaldo’s first full-length film, Monsters and Men was shown at the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and earned the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature. Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was a juror in the competition and ended up telling Will about it and now he’s directing the superstar in King Richard. Jada wasn’t the only one to take notice though. After his Sundance debut, Reinaldo received an offer to direct a few episodes of the U.K. hit series Top Boy and subsequently, the Mark Wahlberg indie film, Joe Bell.
Reinaldo is a former athlete.
Reinaldo was an athlete growing up, and even tried out for Major League Baseball twice, so he has a special connection to King Richard, which showcases the kind of grit and determination necessary to become the best of the best in professional sports. The major leagues were within reach with several tryouts before leaving to become a kindergarten teacher.
He has a unique approach to filmmaking.
Will Smith had been working on getting King Richard made for years, and their were reportedly a number of potential directors considered for the film. But Reinaldo stood out because he approached Will in a different way: he decided that instead of trying to pitch Will, he would have an honest conversation with him. “I put my heart into explaining what I could bring to that story,” he told IndieWire, explaining that he told Will about his own upbringing as an athlete from New York with a very involved father. It’s that kind of truth that hooked Will and the other producers, and remains Reinaldo’s focus as a filmmaker.
“We have to challenge ourselves to tell stories in ways that haven’t been done before,” he told IndieWire. “We can’t label ourselves. Where is the first Black-led Gravity space movie? Give me an opportunity make my Black Kubrick movie. Where’s our Black Italian Job or Black Thomas Crown Affair? That’s where I’m looking to go — positive images of Black folks,” he said.
“I steer away from anything that feels like poverty porn. It’s about constantly looking for opportunities to showcase talent in front of and behind the camera with stories that uplift us in ways we haven’t seen before,” he explained.
Honestly, we can’t wait to see what’s next for Reinaldo Marcus Green in Hollywood. King Richard is available to stream on HBO Max and in theaters.