Daniele Lawson: Reaching New Heights in ‘King Richard’


Jonathan Kim, Copy Editor

For senior Daniele Lawson, appearing in the highly-rated “King Richard” film starring Will Smith is one large step forward to follow her dreams in the acting world. “King Richard,” released on Nov. 19, is a biopic retelling of the seven-year journey that Richard Williams played in shaping his two daughters, Serena and Venus Williams, into history as two of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time.

Lawson plays a supporting role as Isha Price, one of the half-sisters of the Williams sisters. Price is a vital figure in the household, helping and encouraging Serena and Venus into reaching their potential as tennis greats.

By playing a real-life character, Lawson knew that there would be some added difficulty in needing to learn how to portray Price in an accurate manner. However, having Price on set helped Lawson better play her role.

“It was really helpful because I was able to stay my character and see how she moved and get advice from her, which was extremely helpful for me to portray her,” Lawson said.

“King Richard” is Lawson’s first appearance in a feature film and largest project to date. She began dancing when she was 2 years old and acting just two years later. Attending theater camps yearly during the summer helped her build confidence to then perform in TV commercials and act in co-star roles for a variety of TV series such as Young Sheldon, Good Trouble, and CSI: Cyber. 

These experiences drove Lawson to ultimately appear in “King Richard,” although the journey to play Price was not an easy one. 

Lawson initially auditioned for the role of Venus Williams and later was called in to be Lyndrea Price, another one of the half-sisters to the tennis greats. However, she was unable to earn either of these positions despite being a finalist for the latter role. Lawson eventually earned the role of Isha Price, completing the months-long process to appear in the film. Even though Lawson didn’t earn the part she originally sought out, she ended up being a perfect fit for her current role.

“The Williams sisters said I’d be great for Isha and I think they were right,” Lawson said. “I feel like I can relate to Ms. Isha in so many ways and her love for her sisters.”

The production crew and cast began filming in early January of 2020. While they finished their initial filming on March 13, the last day of in-person instruction in CCUSD, there was still much uncertainty over the final production of the film. It wasn’t until October of that year that production resumed under strict COVID precautions, which required the actors to have to adjust drastically. 

“It was really different because we have to be a family for the movie to come off real and authentic on screen,” Lawson said. 

Nevertheless, these difficulties as a result of the pandemic did not hinder the final release of the film nor the connection that the actors had while on set.

“It was the best experience ever. Every day was just such a blast,” Lawson said. “Overall, filming this movie was a great experience, but it was even better because everyone was so sweet and personable.”

While Lawson hopes to first attend college to study film, preferably at UCLA or USC to stay local and continue her acting career, she hopes to eventually star in her own film or TV show. Later in her life, she hopes to write and direct her own content.

For the time being, however, “King Richard” is just her latest big project that she has undertaken and hopes that the film can inspire everyone who watches it.

“This story is so inspirational and so positive and coming out of a pandemic, it is a movie that everyone needs,” Lawson said. “And I want everyone to know that whatever dream you have, don’t ever downplay it. Don’t ever think of it as something that’s too little or impossible to reach because it’s not. And with hard work, a good support system, and people who believe in you, you can do it and you can achieve your goals, whatever those goals are.”