Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis win big for roles in King Richard as parents of Venus and Serena Williams

Virgin Radio

7 Mar 2022, 11:05

Credit: Getty

Ace (literally) news for the former Fresh Prince and his co-star who went home happy campers after both scooping the Outstanding Performer Of The Year award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The prestigious Californian awards ceremony honoured them from their portrayal of Richard and Oracene 'Brandy' Williams, the parents of the tennis legends who helped their daughters achieve global success.

Previous gong-winners have included Sacha Baron Cohen, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Rami Malek and the late Heath Ledger, while other stars honoured at this year's festival include Kristen Stewart, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Javier Bardem.

Smith told Entertainment Weekly about taking on the character: "I love stories where you think you know. You pull the veil back when people didn't know there was a veil.

"Richard Williams was wildly misunderstood. I enjoyed being able to humanise a figure that had been somewhat demonised in the sport. 

"He's actually a genius. He planned two Michael Jordans. Think about how wild that is."

The iconic actor also won big at the recent 2022 SAG Awards. He said of his achievement: "It’s been a time of deep personal reflection, and it is resulting in an artistic comprehension and growth as a man and growth as an artist.

“I’ve never had this kind of growth spurt in my life.”

The festival's executive director Roger Durling said in a statement in November: 'We're so excited to be able to salute the incomparable Will Smith and the revelatory Aunjanue Ellis with this award.