Will Smith Becomes the First Major Producer to Leave Georgia Due to Restrictive Voting Law

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a contributing writer at Okayplayer where he…
Will Smith
Photo Credit: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Will Smith was previously shooting the slave-era drama Emancipation in Georgia.

On Monday, Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua announced that they’d be moving production on their slavery-era drama Emancipation out of Georgia due to the state’s new voting law. The drama is being financed by Smith’s Apple Studios.

“At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” Smith and Fuqua said in a joint statement. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”

Stacey Abrams and Tyler Perry have urged production studios to stay in town despite the law. The law goes into effect starting July 1st. From then on, numerous restrictions on mail-in ballots and absentee ballots go into effect. Georgians attempting to vote in primaries or elections via mail-in ballot or absentee will have until a cutoff date of 11 days before the date to get their ballots in. The bill prohibits people from offering food or drink to voters, a controversial section considering the long lines at polling places in Black neighborhoods of the past few elections.

Stay tuned for further updates on the film industry in Georgia.

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