2021 AFI Fest: Closing Night Premiere Of Warner Bros.' "King Richard - Red Carpet

King Richard star says she ‘freaked out’ when she met Serena Willams

Demi Singleton plays a young Serena Williams in the film and was understandably starstruck when she first met her in real life.

King Richard,” starring Will Smith, is one of the biggest award contenders of the year. The film follows Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, as he trained them to become the champions that they are today.

Playing the role of Serena was Demi Singleton, a 14 year old performer who’s made a career in Broadway, who was understandably freaked out over the prospect of meeting the 23 Grand Slam champion.

“King Richard” was Singleton’s film debut. In an interview with Interview magazine, Singleton and Will Smith talked about her nerves over having her name attached to such a big project, working with celebrities, and playing and meeting Serena Williams.

“I think I was fan-girling a little,” she said when talking about the first time she met Will. “I’m like, whoa, I’m friends with the Prince of Bel-Air. It was pretty amazing for me. I remember walking in there and feeling this energy. I mean, you walk into a room with Mr. Will, and there’s something about the way that you hold yourself.”

2021 AFI Fest: Closing Night Premiere Of Warner Bros.' "King Richard - Red Carpet©GettyImages
Demi and Serena at the premiere of “King Richard”

When asked about what was more nerve-wrecking, meeting Serena or Will Smith, Will Smith stepped in and said, “It was absolutely Serena. I can answer that one. She was definitely losing it meeting Serena.” Demi agreed. “I was freaking out the day I met Serena. As soon as she walked away, I ran in the room and cried. It was a lot. No, I was definitely more nervous meeting Serena, but her and Venus both, they’re like family now.”

Demi wasn’t the only one who experienced some stage fright when faced with the Williams sisters. In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Will Smith said that he was “terrified” over hearing Serena and Venus’ opinion of the film. “It is terrifying when you play a real person that is still alive and you know they’re gonna see it” he said. “Then I get the call that Serena and Venus are walking into the theater to see the film and it’s like the worst two hours.” Luckily, they loved the film, and attached their names on as producers. “King Richard” was released on November 19th. It’s screening in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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