This is Biography Willard Christopher Smith Jr. was born on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia (USA), into a middle-class Baptist family: his mother works for the Philadelphia School Board and his father owns a company that installs and maintains refrigerators and freezers in supermarkets. The second of four children, Willard is a lively boy who grows up in a multiethnic and culturally heterogeneous social context: in his neighborhood, there is a large presence of Orthodox Jews but not far away there is an area inhabited mainly by Muslims, his family is Baptist but his first school is a Catholic school, Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia, almost all of Will’s friends are black but his schoolmates at Our Lady of Lourdes are, for the most part, white.
In order to be well accepted by everyone, Will learns to constantly exploit his natural charisma in his relationships with his peers, something that, during his years at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, earned him the nickname Prince. Will began as a rapper at the age of twelve and immediately developed his ingenious semi-comic style (evidently due to the great influence that Eddie Murphy had on him, as Will himself has declared), but it was only at sixteen that he met the man with whom he obtained his first great successes. At a party in Philadelphia, he met DJ Jazzy Jeff (real name Jeff Townes): the two became friends and began to collaborate, Jeff as a DJ and Will, who in the meantime has adopted the stage name Fresh Prince, (slightly changing his nickname in high school) as a rapper.
With a cheerful, eccentric, and clean style, far removed from the rap style of those years, the two immediately achieve great success, and their first single “Girls ain’t nothing but trouble” (1986) anticipates the triumph of the debut album “Rock the house”, making Will a millionaire at the age of only eighteen. However, his wealth does not last long: problems with taxes drain his bank account, forcing him to rebuild his fortune from scratch. Fortunately, the duo scored several more hits: the album “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” (the first hip-hop album to go double platinum), the song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (which won them the Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989), the song “Summertime” (another Grammy) and many others, up to the album “Code Red”, their last together.
Will Smith’s career as a rapper doesn’t end here: as a solo artist, he records the albums “Big Willie Style” (1997), “Millenium” (1999), “Born to reign” (2002), “Lost and found” (2005) and the collection “Greatest hits” (2002), from which are also extracted singles of enormous success. Since the end of the ’80s, however, the artist also works in the field of acting, as the protagonist of the successful sitcom “The Prince of Bel-Air” (which takes precisely the name of Will), born from an idea of Benny Medina and produced by NBC, which tells the comic story of a cheeky street kid from Philadelphia struggling with life in the richest area of Los Angeles, where he moved to live at his aunt and uncle’s house.
The series is a great success, it is produced for six years and allowed Will Smith to be noticed in Hollywood. It is not long before the first offers and the boy acts in “The Damned of Hollywood” (1992), “Made in America” (1993), and “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993), film thanks to which he manages to impress critics with the dramatic role of the impostor Paul. The great success with the public comes with the next “Bad boys” (1995), which was followed by “Independence day” (1996), which earned him a nomination for best actor at the Saturn award (the oscar for science fiction, fantasy and horror films), “Men in Black” (1997 – another Saturn award nomination) and many others, up to the most noteworthy “Ali” (2001, a biographical film on the life of Cassius Clay) and “The Pursuit of Happiness” (2006, by Italian director Gabriele Muccino), both of which earned him a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination.
There is more than one anecdote regarding Smith’s acting in Ali: it is said, for example, that the protagonist refused eight times the proposal to play the role of the icon Cassius Clay, convinced that no one would have been able to bring the great boxer’s ability and charisma to the screen and that he was persuaded only by a phone call from the great Muhammad Ali himself. Once he had made up his mind, Will would devote himself body and soul to the film.
Undergoing grueling training to get into the part, so as to earn the approval of Sugar Ray Leonard and to make him describe the fervor that would have pervaded him in devoting himself to the role with words that perhaps better than any other summarize the mix of determination and comedy that characterizes the American actor: “I am human viagra, I am Willagra”. (2007), which earned him the Saturn award for best actor and “Hancock” (2008 – another Saturn Award nomination), before which he refused, perhaps the only “Neo” in the career of the African-American actor, the part of Neo in The Matrix, preferring at that time to act in “Wild Wild West” (1999).
His private life is marked by two marriages: one in 1992 with Sheree Zampino who gave him a son, Willard Christopher III, and, after the divorce in 1995, the other, in 1997, with American actress Jada Pinkett, a union from which they were born, in 1998 Jaden Christopher Syre and in 2000 Willow Camille Reign. He said he has studied several religions, including Scientology of his friend Tom Cruise, of which he had many positive things to say, such as “I think in Scientology there are a lot of brilliant and revolutionary ideas that have nothing to do with religion” and, again: Ninety-eight percent of the principles of Scientology are identical to the principles of the Bible.
However, he denied having joined the church of Scientology: “I am a Christian student of all religions and I respect all people and all paths”.The Smith family constantly gives a lot of charity to different organizations, only one of which is Scientology, and has contributed to the construction of several schools, which indicates great sensitivity to the problems of ordinary people but also enormous financial availability.
With the 5 million dollars obtained for “Men in Black”, the 14 for “Public Enemy” and the 20 for “Ali”, “Men in Black II” and “Bad Boys II” and the 144 million earned at the box office by “I robot”, the 177 by “Hitch” and the 162 by “The pursuit of happiness”, Will Smith is one of the highest-paid and most profitable actors (and therefore more influential) in Hollywood and, certainly, one of the greatest “transversal” artists of recent decades. In 2012 he returned to theaters with “Men in Black 3”, the third chapter of the saga.
The following year he released a new film, for which he wrote the subject: the protagonist with him is still his son Jaden (who debuted in “The Pursuit of Happyness”): the science fiction film is titled “After Earth”. Other notable films to remember are “Seven souls” (Seven Pounds, 2008), again with Italian director Gabriele Muccino; “Focus – Nothing is as it seems.” (2015, by Glenn Ficarra); Zona shadowy (Concussion, 2015), directed by Peter Landesman; “Suicide Squad” (2016) by David Ayer; “Collateral Beauty” (2016) by David Frankel.
After the fascinating “Gemini Man” (2019), in 2020 he stars in the last chapter of the Bad Boys trilogy, entitled “Bad Boys for Life”.In the fall of 2021, he published the autobiographical book “Will. The power of will” – Will in the English language means will. In the pages, he reveals that he wanted to kill his father. A few months later, in early 2022, the biographical film “A Winning Family – King Richard” is released in the cinema.
1987 – Rock the House #83 U.S. 560,000 (Oro)
1988 – He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper #4 U.S. 3,000,000 (x3 Platino)
1989 – And in This Corner… #39 U.S. 500,000 (Oro)
1991 – Homebase #12 U.S. 1,000,000 (Platino)
1993 – Code Red #64 U.S. 500,000 (Oro)
1998 – Greatest Hits 230,000
2006 – The Very Best of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince