About Will Smith
By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Will Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1968. He was the
second of four children and started rapping at parties when he was
12. He grew up in middle class West Philadelphia and got the
nickname 'Prince' because of the way he could charm his way out of
Beginning his career in the music industry, Smith teamed with DJ
Jazzy Jeff (whom he met at a party) to become a chart-topping rap
artist. Together, they recorded several platinum and multi-platinum
albums, in addition to winning numerous awards including two Grammys
and three American Music Awards.
By the time he was eighteen, Smith had spent much of his fortune
and was in debt to the IRS. In 1989, he met Benny Medina, who had an
idea for a sitcom based on his life in Beverly Hills. The hit
television show Fresh Prince of Bel Air was born, which ran for six
years. Smith was awarded two Golden Globe Award nominations and two
Image Award nominations for his work.
While the show was still running, Will ventured out to do feature
film work. Following roles in Where the Day Takes You (1992) and
Made in America (1993), he scored critical approval as a young, gay
con man pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son in Six Degrees of
Separation (1993). He also scored a decent helping of controversy,
thanks to remarks he made in an interview that were perceived as
Two years later, Smith found his first major commercial success
alongside Martin Lawrence in the action movie Bad Boys.
On his way up, Will struck gold when he starred in two of the
highest grossing films of the '90s.
Independence Day and Men in Black catapulted Smith onto a whole
new plane of stardom.
Smith was once asked what pushed him to achieve all that he has
in such a short amount of time, he said, "I'm above average in
talent, but where I think I excel is psychotic drive. All I need is
for somebody to say I can't do something and this crazy switch
inside me makes me attack whatever I'm doing. Psychotic drive is
where I excel over people that are probably more naturally gifted."
In addition to the fame and fortune, Men in Black turned out to
be a lucrative enterprise for him offscreen as well, as his
theme-song single also became a hit. Its success inspired him to
begin rapping again, and that same year he released Big Willie
Smith's following films such as Enemy of the State (1998), Wild
Wild West (1999) and The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) were in no
way as successful as these two, but fared well at the box office.
For the beginning of the new millennium, Smith returned to the Men
in Black success wave with the sequel Men in Black 2 (2002), and Ali
Ali earned Smith his first Academy Award nomination for Best
Actor. Smith did two more films, Hancock (2008) and Seven Pounds
(2008), before focusing his energy on sequels to his earlier films,
all set for release in 2012 and 2013: Men in Black 3, Hancock 2, Bad
Boys 3 and I, Robot 2.
Smith's first marriage ended in divorce. He met Jada Pinkett, his
current wife, when she auditioned for a role on The Fresh Prince of
Bel Air, it was not until years later that they connected
romantically. The two married on December 31, 1997; they have two
children: a son, Jaden Christopher Syre, and a daughter, Willow
Smith also has a son, Trey, from the previous marriage. His son
Jaden made his movie debut at age seven opposite his dad in The
Pursuit of Happyness (2006). The movie was a box office hit, and
earned Will his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His
daughter Willow also acts, and appeared with him in his movie I Am
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