Will Smith was born Willard Carroll Smith, Jr in 1968. He began his career as a rapper and reached high acclaim in the music industry with his hit single and comedic music video, Parent’s Just Don’t Understand using the stage name The Fresh Prince. By 1990, Smith was pegged as the lead actor is his own sitcom called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show did very well, running for six seasons on NBC before reaching syndication. Shortly thereafter, Smith was called upon to do films and starred in many blockbuster movies including Men in Black, Bad Boys, The Pursuit of Happyness and Ali. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million at the box office.
His credibility as a proven, bankable star at the box office, provides him with the opportunity to pick and choose which films he will do. He has allegedly turned down the opportunity to star in the latest sequel to Men in Black. While Will Smith has been able to achieve more than the average entertainer, he is also now focused on building the careers of his children, Jaden and Willow Smith which he had with his multi-talented wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Both Smith kids have shown promise as actors and musicians in their own right.
Here’s some facts about Will Smith that you may want to know:
- Prior to acting, Smith was a successful musician, known as The Fresh Prince, and the MC in the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
- Beginning with “Men in Black II” (2002) and ending with “Hancock” (2008), Smith starred in eight consecutive $100M+ grossing movies, an incredible stretch and a record.
- The actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California (a city on the outskirts of Los Angeles), named the New Village Leadership Academy. No doubt he’s teaching them a few tricks of his own!
- It’s been reported that Smith was offered a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These reports are untrue and the musician-turned-actor has acknowledged he had no intention of going to college due to his blossoming music career. (Who can blame him?)
- In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince won the first ever Grammy award in the Rap category.
- He was raised in a Baptist household and remains a Christian, but acknowledges he is a student of all religions and, accordingly, respects all people’s beliefs. He has denied being a member of the Church of Scientology, but has praised the organization and called it revolutionary.
- Smith has been nominated for two Best Actor Oscars, for “Ali” (2001) and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006), but he has yet to take home the prize.
- Before his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor was married to Sheree Fletcher for three years in the early ’90s. They had one child together, Trey.
- Due to his free-spending ways, Smith nearly went bankrupt in his early twenties. Luckily, the hit tv series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” soon got off the ground, and the rest is history.
- In 2007, “Newsweek” called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood.
- In both “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Smith solves a Rubik’s Cube. This is a real talent of his, and he’s even done it on live television in under a minute. I’m in awe.
- The actor turned down the role of Neo in “The Matrix.” Instead, he took the lead role in “Wild Wild West” (1999), the first commercial disappointment of Smith’s career and one of the actor’s few regrets.
- Smith met his future wife, Jada Pinkett, when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Actress Nia Long (“The Best Man”), won the part opposite Smith.
- The actor’s first major film role was in the drama “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993). He followed it up with the hit blockbuster “Bad Boys” (1995) opposite Martin Lawrence. “Bad Boys” was also Michael Bay’s directorial feature debut.
- President Barack Obama has stated that he would like Smith to play him if there were ever a film about his life. President Obama has also acknowledged that the two have, in fact, discussed the possibility.