In case you missed the announcement last week, Willow Smith, who was to star in the upcoming Annie remake that Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and James Lassiter are producing, with Jay-Z (also one of the film's producers) scoring, is no longer going to star in the film.
At the time of that post, the answer to the "why" question wasn't public, although I suggested that it may have been because she's out-grown the part (she was 9 when it was first announced that she'd star in the film; she's 12 now).
Skip ahead a few days later, when, addressing the audience at an event called Real Talk with Sister Souljah and Will Smith at Philly's Temple University, poppa Smith said the following about Willow's exit:
"Willow was supposed to be doing 'Annie,' we got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with 'Whip My Hair' and she said, 'You know Daddy, I don't think so,' and I said, 'Baby, hold up!' I said, 'No, no, no, listen, you'll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyonce will be there. You will be singing and dancing,' and she looked at me and said, 'Daddy, I have a better idea, how about I just be 12.'"
He added further…
"The thing that had become very clear to me is the danger of a material world and focusing so hard on coming up with money or a house or a job. You focus so hard on those things, and sometimes you can lose focus on why you are doing it in the first place. The only reason to do any of that is to have love… I'm really learning through Willow the necessity that we have to snap ourselves back and refocus on the emotional needs of the people that we love. Someone's emotional needs can be very, very different from your dreams and what you think they should be doing and where they are supposed to be."
So, in a nutshell, Willow just wants to be a kid, like any other I suppose.
I understand. Poppa and Momma Smith probably had all these career plans for the kids, but Willow isn't really up for all that, apparently, which I guess means that Willow will be slowing down a bit – at least for now – and will instead focus on being Willow, a regular 12-year-old kid… with filthy, stinking rich, powerful parents, and the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce hanging around the house.
But seriously… I understand. Do you Willow.
Will Gluck has been tapped to direct the Annie film, which the Smiths are still producing. And as I wondered last week, assuming they still plan to go with a black lead, is this a perfect opening for Quvenzhané Wallis?
A key question will be how well she can carry a tune.
Sony is eyeing a fall production start date, so an actress will be selected likely in the next 6 months; maybe sooner.