‘I Was Able to Absorb a lot of Energy: ‘King Richard’ Star Daniele Lawson Dishes on What She Learned from Working with Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis

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Daniele Lawson made her feature film debut in “King Richard,” to help tell the story of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams and their father, Richard. Starring alongside Will Smith, who portrayed Richard, and Aunjanue Ellis, who plays Venus and Serena’s mother, Oracene, Lawson plays Isha Price, Venus and Serena’s sister in “King Richard.”

The must-watch film received six Critic’s Choice Awards, including “Best Picture” and “Best Screenplay,” reports Variety.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: Daniele Lawson attends the 2021 AFI Fest Closing Night Premiere of Warner Bros. “King Richard” at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 14, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: Daniele Lawson attends the 2021 AFI Fest Closing Night Premiere of Warner Bros. “King Richard” at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 14, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

ABS caught up with Daniele Lawson to discuss her supporting role, filming during the pandemic and her aspirations outside of acting.

For her first major role, Lawson received what many would consider the best hands-on coaching experience from her real-life character. She said having Isha Price on set every day to guide her made “King Richard” appear “more authentic.”

“I didn’t have to take any extra classes but I got to sit down with Ms. Isha, which is probably the best class I could have had,” Lawson expressed. “We were just able to talk about her life, her family dynamic, and really get to know her on a personal level, which was awesome.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic halted filming for “King Richard” for months in 2020. Once filming resumed, Lawson said new protocols required cast members to get tested three times a week within six weeks.

In the film, “King Richard,” Will Smith and Aunjaune Ellis portray Richard and Oracene Williams, the parents of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams and their three sisters. Photo: @danieledeniselawson/Instagram
In the film, “King Richard,” Will Smith and Aunjaune Ellis portray Richard and Oracene Williams, the parents of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams and their three sisters. Photo: @danieledeniselawson/Instagram

“There was some false positives and all kinds of crazy stuff,” she continued. “But everyone was doing their part and we had an amazing COVID team, who helped us enforce social distancing.”

On a brighter note, Lawson said she enjoyed sharing the big screen with Smith and Ellis, who “made the work environment such a comfortable and positive place.”

“Everyone was just having fun every day singing and dancing. But when it came down to work, we were working,” Lawson explained. “Working with Mr. Will and Mrs. Aunjanue has been one of the best experiences of my life. They are two actors of such caliber. They’re so talented and I feel just being on set I was able to absorb a lot of energy.”

The high school student admitted Smith and Ellis gave her advice to use “in my personal life and with auditions.”

“Mr. Will talked about picking projects that are important to you. Like ‘don’t do it for the money, do it for the experience and [consider how] that would impact other people,’ ” Lawson shared. “Ms. Aunjanue really just taught us to advocate for ourselves. Like ‘if it’s something you need make it be known, don’t be afraid.’ “

Lawson has been acting since the age of four, appearing in commercials and television series such as “Young Sheldon,” “Game Shakers” and “mixed-ish.”

Lawson said she could one day see herself in a film with Michael B. Jordan or her “role model” Regina King, considering their successful transitions from actor to executive producer.

When asked about her future in Hollywood, the 17-year-old said, “I hope to have a lot of lead roles under my belt, whether that’s in movies or TVshows. I’d say maybe a little producing and directing.

“I want to act for a while,” Lawson added. “I feel like that’s my main passion but later I would like to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.”

Daniele Lawson passionately supports the homeless and less fortunate in her community by volunteering at local missions in Downtown Los Angeles. She enjoys listening to Drake and SZA, but prefers classics from Donnie Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Tony Terrell, to name a few. At the moment, Lawson is waiting for acceptance letters from her prospective colleges and universities, including UCLA, which she describes as her “dream school.”

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