Will Smith is one of the world’s most famous actors. He had had a long and successful career as a rapper, actor, and producer. He has risen to being one of the top-paid celebrities of all time, and fans hope that he isn’t retiring anytime soon.
“Money and success don’t change people; they merely amplify what is already there.” – Will Smith
43. Born and Raised
Will Smith was born on September 25th, 1968 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
42. Mom and Dad
Will’s mother was on his school board, and his father was an electrical engineer who owned a refrigeration company. His parents were Baptist, but they still sent him to a strict Catholic school growing up.
41. Brothers and Sisters
Will Smith has three siblings: Pam, Ellen, and Harry.
40. Starting Young
When he was only 12 years old, he began rapping at home and in school. His sister described him as “goofy” while he bounced around entertaining everyone.
39. The Hero
Growing up 70’s and 80’s, his favorite rapper as a kid was Grandmaster Flash.
38. Smooth Operator
In High School, he was nicknamed “The Prince” because he would goof off and get into trouble, but then use his fast-talking charm to convince the teachers to let him off with a warning.
When describing the environment he grew up in, Will Smith says he got “the best of both worlds.” Over 90% of the kids at his private Catholic School were white. He had Jewish and Muslim neighbors, and he spent the much of his time surrounded by black Baptist families and best friends. He credits this diversity for his sense of humor.
36. Part-Time Job
As a teenager, Will worked for his father’s business, helping to install refrigerators in people’s houses.
35. The Dream Team
Will became friends with Jeff Townes, and they started making music together. They called themselves DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
34. Keeping it Clean
Most rappers talk about fights, drugs, and making a lot of money. Jeff and Will rapped about more friendly topics, instead. One of their biggest early singles was “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” The lyrics include Will talking about back-to-school shopping, and references to him being upset about a 20-dollar plaid shirt with a butterfly collar that his mom bought him.
33. In Living Rooms Everywhere
Will was offered the opportunity to get his own TV show: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Jeff also plays a character on the show, “Jazz.” The show was insanely successful: it ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes, attracting more than 10 million viewers per episode.
32. The Dream
Will Smith told his parents that he wanted to become a professional rapper instead of going to college. They were totally against the idea, and wanted him to go to college because they thought it was the only way for him to succeed. They gave him a one-year time limit to make it as a rapper.
31. Smash Hit
In 1991, Jeff and Will won a Grammy Award for their song “Summertime.” They became the first rap artists in history to ever win the award. The song also made it to #4 on the Billboard Top 100, and it was played on radios everywhere.
30. Fake it ‘til You Make It
Even in his younger days, Will exuded charm and confidence. He was quoted saying, “In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.”
29. Young Money
Will Smith became a millionaire before he turned 20 years old. As he grew up, he earned a spot in the top earning actors of all time. His net worth is estimated at $260 million.
28. First Love
In the midst of all this success, Will got married to actress Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had a son together, Will Smith III. They call him “Trey.” Will and Sheree got a divorce in 1995.
Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Sheree Fletcher (ex wife).
27. The Big Screen
Following the divorce, Will focused his energy on expanding his career as an actor. The first movie he ever starred in was Bad Boys in 1995.
26. Fighting the Aliens
In 1996, Will Smith had a starring role in the movie Independence Day. He says that he based his interpretation of the character on Han Solo from Star Wars. The movie made a ton of money, and quickly became a #1 hit in the box office. This sealed his fate as becoming a movie actor for the rest of his life.
25. Out of this World
Will recorded the theme song of Men In Black, which became yet another iconic movie that did well in the box office. Also, Will Smith actually came up with the plot for Men in Black 3 while filming Men in Black II.
24. We Can Make it If We Try
Will Smith’s song “Just the Two of Us” from 1997 was about his son, Trey.
23. Second Chances
In 1997, Will got married a second time, to his wife Jada Pinkett. They had two kids together: Jaden and Willow. They first met when Jada tried out for the role of Will Smith’s girlfriend in Fresh Prince, and she didn’t get the part. They would not actually get together until years down the road.
22. Red Pill, or the Blue Pill?
Will Smith turned down the chance to play Neo in The Matrix because he just could not understand the concept during the pitch. He was quoted saying, “I totally would have messed up The Matrix.” Regardless, a fan decided to make a trailer called “What if The Matrix Starred Will Smith?” and put it on YouTube. It has more than 1.8 million views.
21. Na na na na na na na
Will Smith continued to make music even well into his acting career. “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It” won a Grammy Award 1999.
20. Lover and a Fighter
His role of Muhammad Ali in the bio pic Ali scored him his first Oscar nomination. Critics said that he truly transformed into Ali, and it felt as if they were watching the real person.
19. On the Go
Actors have it tough when it comes to making appearances for the press leading up to the premiere of a movie. Will Smith takes these very seriously. In 2005, he was visiting England to do a press tour for his movie Hancock. He actually ended up winning a Guinness World Record for the most public appearances within a 12-hour time span.
18. The American Dream
In 2006, he steered away from sci-fi films and comedies to star in The Pursuit of Happyness. His real son, Jayden, was also in the movie with him. He was nominated for an Oscar a second time.
17. Destiny Intervened
Mr. and Mrs. Smith almost starred Will Smith and Catherine Zeta Jones. It’s probably a good thing that he wasn’t in the movie, because it is where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met and fell in love.
Even though he did not win any Oscars, his 2007 movie I Am Legend brought in a huge amount of money in the box office, grossing 585 million (domestic and international).
15. Winning Streak
Most actors seem to star in at least one “flop” every once in awhile, but Will Smith has a pretty solid track record: He became the first actor in history to star eight films in a row that grossed over $100 million.
14. The Catch Phrase
If you pay attention, Will Smith somehow figures out a way to incorporate the phrase “Aw, hell no!” into almost allF of his movies.
13. Reading Rainbow
Will Smith is against some traditional education because he believes that there are many ways to learn a skill. “I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front of the class.”
12. Talent Runs in the Family
Will Smith’s two younger kids, Jaden and Willow, have begun impressive careers in entertainment as well. Jaden has modeled for Louis Vuitton, while Willow modeled for Chanel. Jaden helped produce and star in an animated Netflix original series called “Neo Yokio”. Inspired by the style of Japanese anime, only with culturally diverse characters.
11. Ni Hao
In 2010, Will Smith and the rest of his family spent three months living in Shanghai, China while Jaden filmed The Karate Kid.
10. Talented Genes
His daughter, Willow Smith, made up a song called “Whip My Hair.” He helped her polish it, and produce the music video. The song blew up on the radio soon after.
9. The Rumors
In the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, there is a scene where Will Smith is telling Uncle Phil about his father. He breaks down and cries, and Phil hugs him. The Internet decided to spread a rumor that this was all improvised, and that Will was talking about his own dad. This actually is not true. He’s just an amazing actor. Apparently, he made the entire crew cry after watching that scene. It makes Will Smith angry that people would assume negative things about his real-life father, because he believes it’s clearly based on stereotypes. Smith has been quoted saying, “There’s so much negative imagery of black fatherhood. I’ve got tons of friends that are doing the right thing by their kids, and doing the right thing as a father—and how come that’s not as newsworthy?”
He was was almost in Django Unchained. However, he read the script, and disliked it because he felt that the Bounty Hunter (played by Chrisoph Waltz) was the real star of the story, and disliked that aspect of it. He still says he loves the movie, but he just needed to pass.
7. Will for President?
In the United States, it’s not uncommon for celebrities without any political background to end up in positions of power. Will Smith was once quoted saying, “If it was something that I really committed myself to, I don’t think there’s anything that could stop me becoming President of the United States.”
6. On Broadway
Maybe you never heard of it, but Will Smith co-produced (along with Jay-Z and Jada Pinkett Smith) a musical called “Fela!” The Broadway production received 11 Tony Award nominations in 2010, and it actually won Best Choreography, Best Costume Design of a Musical, and Best Sound Design of a Musical.
5. Smarty Pants
Despite the fact that he never went to college, Will Smith is a very intelligent person. He is fluent in Spanish, and he loves to play chess.
4. Kids Love Him
He holds the record for winning the most Kids Choice Awards. He won the prize 6 times!
3. The DC Universe
Will and his wife have both acted as characters from Batman. Jada was in the 2014 show Gotham, and Will plays Deadshot in Suicide Squad (2016).
2. Drama On The Set
On set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will has loving relationship with Aunt Viv, but most fans don’t realize that the actress, Janet Hubert, was actually not well liked by the cast. She was even fired at Will’s request.
In 2017, he was on the jury of judges during the Cannes Film Festival. This is a huge honor in the film community.
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