How Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis honors Venus and Serena’s mother in ‘King Richard’

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Hello! It’s Mark Olsen, film writer for The Times and “The Envelope” podcast co-host.

For this week’s episode, I got to sit down with Oscar hopeful Aunjanue Ellis, who was nominated for best supporting actress for her performance in “King Richard.” In the film, Ellis plays Oracene Price, the mother of Venus and Serena Williams.

The Williams sisters’ success is often fully credited to their father, the eponymous Richard Williams, but in the film we learn of Oracene’s overlooked contributions. Ellis, who fought to get more screen time and credit for Oracene, says, “people are hearing her name in a way that they have not heard it before, and she deserves that.”


To hear more, you can listen to the full conversation now wherever you get your podcasts or on, where you can also read the full transcript.

Aunjanue Ellis

“There are so many Ms. Oracenes in the world who are all in the stands, cheering on, and no one knows the full measure of who they are, what they are, and how they figure into the world that we live in. I just felt that this was my shot to speak from Ms. Oracene and to speak for those other women like her.”

— — “King Richard” actor Aunjanue Ellis on her character, Oracene Price

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