[WATCH] Will Smith Speaks on His New Film ‘Emancipation’ at First Public Screening

Will Smith is set to star in the new film Emancipation. Making its screening debut at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference, Smith spoke about what led him to be part of a film set in slavery.

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“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery,” Smith said. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith.”

The Hollywood Reporter noted he added the film is “about the heart of a man.”


Emancipation is directed by Antoine Fuqua and tells the story of Peter, who escaped a plantation in Louisiana to reunite with his family, and joined the Union Army. In that army, his back was medically examined, and his wounds became “the first viral image.”

Smith added, “Cameras had just been created, and the image of whipped Peter went around the world. It was a rallying cry against slavery, and this was a story that exploded and blossomed in my heart that I wanted to be able to deliver to you in a way that only Antoine Fuqua could deliver.”