Story of Will Smith
Story of Will Smith
Willard Carroll “Will” Smith was born on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and song writer.
His mother Caroline was a school board employee, and father Willard C. Smith was a refrigeration engineer. Smith attended Our Lady of Lourdes, a private Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia, despite his family’s observation of the Baptist faith. His West Philadelphia neighborhood was a melting pot of cultures where Orthodox Jews co-existed with a large Muslim population. Smith was a good student whose charming personality and quick tongue were renowned for getting him out of trouble, a trait for which he soon gained the nickname “Prince”. Smith began rapping at age 12, emulating heroes like Grandmaster Flash but tingeing his rhymes with a comedic element that would later become his trademark.
At 16, Smith met a DJ at a party by the name of Jeff Townes and both became friends, and the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince was born. The pair began producing music, but steered clear of the gangsta rap sound that was emerging from the West Coast by groups like N.W.A. The pair’s first single, “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” was a hit in 1986. Their 1987 debut album, ‘Rock the House’ hit the Billboard Top 200, and made Smith a millionaire before the age of 18. Early on, it was reported that Smith had turned down a scholarship to Boston’s elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince continued their success with the album “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper”.
Two years later, Smith began his remarkable crossover into acting. NBC signed Smith to headline a sitcom about a street-smart kid from Philadelphia who moves in with stuffy relatives in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air. Playing on his rapper persona, and at times featuring his friend Towne, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ was a huge success that ran for six seasons. Meanwhile, Smith and Towne continued producing music, their 1991 album ‘Homebase’ producing the hits “Summertime” and “Ring My Bell.” Their final album together, 1993’s ‘Code Red’, was notable for “Boom! Shake the Room.” While still making ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, Smith began a second crossover into movies. Small roles in the drama ‘Where The Day Takes You’ (1992) and the comedy ‘Made In America’ (1993) were followed by a critically acclaimed lead in ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ (1993).
Smith’s first steps into superstardom came with his next film, ‘Bad Boys’ (1995). The two black leads proved an instant success and Smith playing the smooth lady killer to Lawrence’s clown was established as leading man material. Smith next took on the epic sci-fi flick ‘Independence Day’ (1996), a role that confirmed him as a major player in Hollywood and he played an air force pilot leading the counterattack against invading alien forces. Smith fought aliens again in his next blockbuster, the comic sci-fi action film, ‘Men In Black’ (1997). Playing opposite Tommy Lee Jones, Smith chewed up the screen as the new recruit to Jones’s old hand.
Another blockbuster followed with the slick conspiracy thriller ‘Enemy of the State’ (1998), which earned Smith an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. The golf movie ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’ (2000) was his next big film, with Smith playing the caddie to Matt Damon’s out-of-sorts swinger.
The 2001 biopic ‘Ali’, based on boxing legend Muhammad Ali, gave Smith the opportunity to regain his big-screen swagger. The film underwhelmed at the box office despite a record-breaking opening day, but Smith’s performance was strong enough to garner him his first Academy Award nomination.
A couple of sequels were next, with Smith reprising his roles in ‘Men In Black II’ (2002) and ‘Bad Boys II’ (2003). Neither was a flop, but neither matched the impressive box-office take of its predecessor.
Staying with the sci-fi action theme, Smith moved on to ‘I, Robot’ in 2004. The film performed well, grossing more than $144 million domestically. Smith’s smooth-talking charmer persona was put to use in the 2005 romantic comedy ‘Hitch’, playing a dating consultant who helps luckless guys with their romantic moves. Smith also penned the theme song and included it on his 2005 album, ‘Lost and Found’. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006), starring alongside his real-life son Jaden, Smith captivated audiences with the story of a single father who has to build a life from scratch. In 2007, Smith starred in ‘I Am Legend’, a remake of the Charlton Heston film ‘Omega Man’, in which he battled bloodthirsty vampires. The film became a national and international hit.
Smith then took on the dual role of actor and producer for ‘Hancock’ (2008), in which he played an alcoholic anti-superhero, and for ‘Seven Pounds’ (2008), about a man who sets out to change the lives of seven people. He also helped produce two more films released that year, ‘Lakeview Terrace’ and ‘The Secret Life of Bees’.
After a hiatus, Smith returned to the big screen in 2012 with ‘Men in Black III’, followed by a turn as a military commander in the critically panned M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi flick ‘After Earth’, which co-starred Smith’s son Jaden. He then made a cameo as Lucifer in the film ‘Winter’s Tale’ (2014). Smith’s next leading role came with the 2015 heist caper ‘Focus’, co-starring Margot Robbie. In 2016 Smith starred in the DC Comics blockbuster hit ‘Suicide Squad’, which became his most successful film since 1996’s ‘Independence Day’. As of 2016, his films have grossed $7.5 billion at the global box office.
Smith has been married twice. His first marriage to Sheree Zampino in 1992 lasted only three years. He has been married to actress Jada Pinkett Smith since 1997. The couple’s son, Jaden, was born in 1998, and their daughter, Willow, was born in 2000. Smith leans politically liberal and has made donations to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama.
Smith was consistently listed in Fortune Magazine’s “Richest 40” list of the forty wealthiest Americans under the age of 40. As of 2016, his net worth was estimated to be $250 million.