Oscars 2022: Zach Baylin, screenwriter of “King Richard” and a native of Delaware, is about to receive his first Oscars

LOS ANGELES — “King Richard,” starring West Philadelphia’s Will Smith, is up for five Oscars Sunday night.

The film tells the story of Richard Williams, who, armed with a 78-page plan, is determined to turn his daughters, Venus and Serena, into tennis stars.

In addition to Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Editing, King Richard is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

That’s where a native of Wilmington, Delaware comes in.

Zach Baylin wrote the story for King Richard after a chance conversation with a Hollywood producer about tennis, one of his favorite sports.

“I said I would like to write this film. I think I could, I think I could do it, and here’s what I would do,” said Baylin, a Tatnall School graduate.

With the same fighting spirit as Richard Williams, Baylin was determined to bring one of the most inspirational underdog stories in sports history to the big screen.

There was just one problem: “We didn’t have any contact with the Williams family at the time, and we knew we needed him,” Baylin said.

So he set about winning the approval of Venus and Serena Williams.

“Richard’s perspective was quite controversial in those years. And I think they were glad he had a moment in the film celebrating his achievements,” Baylin said. “That helped grease the wheels a bit. It was totally surreal.”

Now, with Will Smith and the Williams sisters on board, Baylin was able to accurately capture every intimate detail.

The first script read with Smith is a moment Baylin won’t soon forget.

“I said who I am, you know, people go around clapping and before the reading Will said, ‘Don’t clap for him yet. Let’s read the script first.’ And then we got to the end of the script and it was a very successful read through and he said, ‘You know, now you can clap for this guy.’ And it was pretty awesome.”

This screenplay eventually earned Baylin his first Oscar nomination.

When it comes to preparing an acceptance speech for the Oscars, the screenwriter says he’ll have a little something in his pocket.

“I’ll thank my parents,” Baylin said.

The 94th Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC on March 27 from 8pm ET/7pm CT/5pm PT. Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes are hosts.

Check out the full list of Oscars 2022 nominations here.

Mark your calendar: March 27th is Oscar Sunday. Red Carpet special coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT and continues throughout the day leading up to the 94th Academy Awards ceremony. Stay tuned to “On The Red Carpet” after the last awards show for continued coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscars news and information. Click here to download our CTV apps and watch “On The Red Carpet” wherever you stream.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Oscars 2022: Zach Baylin, screenwriter of “King Richard” and a native of Delaware, is about to receive his first Oscars

Dais Johnston

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