Production for Emancipation, Will Smith’s forthcoming slavery movie, will no longer be filmed in Georgia. The actor announced the news alongside his costar Antoine Fuqua, citing the state’s new voting laws as a reason.
“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,” Fuqua and Smith 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 laws, signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, require absentee voters to provide an ID rather than a signature.
It also limits the number of ballot drop boxes and prohibits the provision of food and water to people waiting on line to vote among other restrictive measures. They’ve since been a source of contention as they are believed to be a form of voter suppression.
“The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting,” the statement continued. “Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
Per Deadline, Emancipation will see Smith’s character Peter as he escapes a Louisiana plantation, moves to the North and eventually joins the Union Army. Production for the movie — which was slated to start filming on June 21 — will most likely relocate to Louisiana.
In the wake of Georgia’s controversial election laws, the likes of Tyler Perry and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams have called on Hollywood filmmakers to move its production out of Georgia. Emancipation is the first major production to make its exit.
Major League Baseball also pulled the All-Star Game out of Georgia for the same reason.