Will Smith

Will Smith

Infobox musical artist
Name = Will Smith

Img_size =
Img_capt = Will Smith in 2008
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Willard Christopher Smith, Jr.
Alias = The Fresh Prince
Born = birth date and age|1968|9|25
Spouse = Jada Pinkett Smith (1997-Present)
Origin = Wynnefield, West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Instrument =
Occupation = Actor, rapper, film, music and television producer
Years_active = 1986–present
Label = Jive, Columbia, Interscope
Associated_acts = DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, DJ Jazzy Jeff
URL = [http://www.willsmith.com/ www.willsmith.com]

Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968)cite web |url=http://music.msn.com/music/artist-biography/will-smith.4/ |title=Will Smith on MSN|author=Jason Ankeny|accessdate=2008-07-17 |year=2008 |publisher=MSN ] is an American actor, film producer and rapper. He is one of a small group of people who have enjoyed success in three major entertainment media in the United States. "Newsweek" has called him the most powerful actor on the planet. [cite news|author=Sean Smith|title=The $4 Billion Man|publisher=Newsweek|date=2007-04-09|url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17888452/site/newsweek/|accessdate=2007-04-04] Smith has been nominated for a Golden Globe, two Academy Awards, and has won multiple Grammys.

Smith rose to fame as a rapper under the name the Fresh Prince in the late 1980s. Smith's most notable television role was that of William "Will" Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". In his film work, his notable roles include Agent J in "Men in Black" and its sequel, "Men in Black II", Detective Del Spooner in "I, Robot", Muhammad Ali in "Ali", as well as his role in the blockbuster "Independence Day" and more recently as Chris Gardner in "The Pursuit of Happyness" with his son Jaden Smith and as Robert Neville in "I Am Legend" with his daughter Willow Smith. He is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office. [cite web|url=http://news.fantasymoguls.com/originalcontent/2008/07/early-wednesday.html|title=WEEKEND ESTIMATES: 'Hancock' Delivers $107M 5-Day Opening, Giving Will Smith a Record Eighth Consecutive $100M Grossing Movie!; 'WALL-E' with $33M 3-Day; 'Wanted' Down 60 Percent for $20.6M; 'Kit Kittredge' a Disaster!|publisher=Fantasy Moguls|date=2008-07-03|accessdate=2008-07-07]

Life and career

Early life and education

Smith, an African American, [ [http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=630360 Will Smith: So perfect it's disgusting ] ] was born and raised in West Philadelphia and Germantown in Northwest Philadelphia. His mother, Caroline (née Bright), was a school administrator who worked for the Philadelphia school board, and his father, Willard Christopher Smith, Sr., was a refrigeration engineer. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/92/Will-Smith.html Will Smith Biography (1968-) ] ] [cite news|title=Where there's a Will, there's a way|url=http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2004/08/09/2003198111|publisher=Taipei Times|date=2004-08-09] He was raised Baptist. [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/movies/5377381.htmlDead link|date=January 2008] His parents divorced when he was thirteen.cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1689234,00.html|publisher=Time|author=Rebecca Winters Keegan|title=The Legend of Will Smith|date=2007-11-29] Smith's charming and sly demeanor in school resulted in the nickname "Prince", which eventually turned into the "Fresh Prince". While still in his teens, Smith began rapping and eventually began collaborating with Jeff Townes (a.k.a. D.J. Jazzy Jeff), whom he met at a party. He attended Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia. D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince was born with Smith handling the rhymes and Townes overseeing the mastery of mixing and scratchingndash the combination was a pop and hip-hop hit during the 1980s and early 1990s.

While it is widely reported that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he never applied to MIT, [cite journal|url=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.07/smith.html|title=I, Robocop|month=December | year=2007|author=Jennifer Hillner|journal=Wired] although he was admitted to a "pre-engineering program" there.cite episode|title=Will Smith|series=Inside the Actors Studio|url=http://www.bravotv.com/Inside_the_Actors_Studio/guest/Will_Smith|credits=James Lipton (producer)|network=Bravo|season=8|number=806|airdate=2002-01-13] According to Smith, "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college." [cite journal|url=http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=31133|journal=Reader's Digest|title=Will Smith Interview: Will's Roots|author=Meg Grant|month=December | year=2006|accessdate=2006-06-27]


Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, with his childhood friend Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes as turntablist and producer as well as Ready Rock C (Clarence Holmes) as the human beat box. The trio was known for performing humorous, radio-friendly songs, most notably "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Summertime." They gained critical acclaim for winning the first ever Grammy in the Rap category (1988). He had a line in "Voices That Care", a 1991 Gulf War song by a celebrity group. Smith spent money freely during his early career and underpaid his income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service eventually assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against Smith, took many of his possessions, and garnished his income. [cite interview
interviewer=Steve Kroft
program=60 Minutes
] Smith was nearly bankrupt in 1990 when the NBC television network signed him to a contract and built a sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", around him. The show was successful and launched his acting career. Smith set himself the goal of becoming "'the biggest movie star in the world'," studying box office successes' common characteristics. Although he made a notable dramatic film debut in "Six Degrees of Separation" while still appearing in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", Smith's film career took off with his role in the buddy cop action film "Bad Boys" (1995) along with co-star Martin Lawrence.

After "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" ended May 20, 1996, Smith began a successful solo music career while simultaneously starring in a series of films. The first two films were hugely successful summer blockbusters: "Independence Day" (1996), in which he played a fearless and confident fighter pilot, and "Men in Black" (1997), where he played the comic and confident Agent J against Tommy Lee Jones' deadpan Agent K. Smith's acting in "Men in Black" won critical praise. He originally rejected the lead role in "Men in Black", but wife Jada Pinkett Smith coaxed him into acceptance. The two films established Smith's commercial reputation as a bankable star whose appeal across age, race, and gender lines could "open" a film at the box office, a reputation Smith would begin to term a "Big Willie Weekend". In 1998 he starred with Gene Hackman in "Enemy of the State" which had a seemingly far-fetched plot at the time but has become more and more plausible as the 'surveillance society' becomes more of a reality. Smith turned down the role of Neo in "The Matrix" in favor of "Wild Wild West". Despite the failure of "Wild Wild West", Smith has said that he harbors no regrets about his decision, asserting that Keanu Reeves's performance as Neo was superior to what Smith would have achieved. [ [http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/smith%20has%20no%20matrix%20regrets Smith has no Matrix Regrets] ] Smith then went on to gain leading roles in several box office successes including "Men in Black II", "Bad Boys II", "Hitch", and "I, Robot".

Smith is one of only two hip-hop artists to receive an Oscar nomination in an acting categoryspecify (Best Actor, "Ali", 2001), for his portrayal of the boxer Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, in the biopic. He was again nominated for Best Actor Oscar for his role in another true-life movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness", where he played Chris Gardner in his rags-to-riches story.

Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith created the UPN (later CW) sitcom "All of Us", which was loosely based on their lives. The show debuted on UPN in September 2003 and aired there for three seasons before moving to The CW in October 2006 for one more season. The CW cancelled "All of Us" in May 2007.

Smith appeared as himself in "Jersey Girl" delivering the Silent Bob speech that appears in nearly all Kevin Smith movies. The lead character's situation is due to the claim, "Will Smith is just a rapper."

Smith also released a string of hit singles, often associated with his most recent film, throughout the late 1990s. The most notable of these were his #1 hit theme song "Men in Black", the #1 hit "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" (which made "jiggy" a catchphrase for a while in 1998), and a cover of "Just the Two of Us", an affectionate message to his young son. His first two solo albums went platinum, but his third, on Columbia Records, was a sales disappointment compared to his past efforts, and after a quick Greatest Hits release that was almost not advertised at all, he was dropped by the label. He signed a recording contract with Interscope Records and released the successful Lost & Found in 2005. The album was propelled solely on the smash hit single, "Switch", which appealed to the mainstream a la "Summertime". The single stayed atop the charts for months and returned Smith to the forefront of hip-hop.

In 2005, Smith was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for attending a record breaking three premieres in a 24-hour time span. [cite news|url=http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/a19424/will-smith-in-guinness-book-of-records.html|title=Will Smith in Guinness Book of Records|publisher=Digital Spy|date=2005-02-23|author=Daniel Saney] On July 2, 2005, Smith served as host for the Live 8 concert in his native Philadelphia in front of an enormous crowd, and later performed a set with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Smith appeared at Nickelodeon Kid's Choice awards in 2005 performing "Switch", as well as the Black Entertainment Television awards in 2005. He appeared in the second game of the NBA Finals (San Antonio vs. Detroit) performing "Switch" in 2005. Smith also made a special appearance in the reality talent contest show "Indian Idol", when he visited India.

Smith was considered for the role of John Smith in the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"; Brad Pitt eventually received the role. [ [http://www.notstarring.com/movies/mr----mrs--smith Who was considered for Mr. & Mrs. Smith?] ] He was also considered for the role of Willy Wonka in the remake of the film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". [ [http://www.notstarring.com/movies/charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory Who was considered for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?] ] He has planned to star in a feature film remake of the television series "It Takes a Thief". [cite news|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117940129.html|title=U finds man of steal for 'Thief' feature|publisher=Variety|date=2006-03-21|author=Gabriel Snyder|coauthors=Michael Fleming]

Smith was recognized on December 10, 2007, at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. Smith left an imprint of his hands and feet outside the world renowned theater in front of many fans. [ [http://www.hhworlds.com/f11/12-11-07-will-smith-immortalized-grauman-s-chinese-theater-9841.html#post102972 "HHWorlds.com" - Will Smith Immortalized At Grauman's Chinese Theater] ]

Smith appeared in the film "I Am Legend", released December 14, 2007. Despite marginally positive reviews, [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/i_am_legend/ Rotten Tomatoes: I Am Legend] ] its opening was the largest ever for a film released in the United States during December. Smith himself has said that he considers the film to be "aggressively unique". [ [http://www.stv.tv/content/out/film/videointerviews/display.html?id=opencms:/out/films/video_interviews/will_smith_i_am_legend_interview Will Smith: He is a legend] video interview with stv.tv, December 2007] Smith is developing a film entitled "The Last Pharaoh", which he will star as Taharqa. [cite news | title = Jim Slotek, Kevin Williamson | title = Will Smith set to conquer Egypt? | publisher = Jam Showbiz | date = 2008-03-23 | url = http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/Artists/S/Smith_Will/2008/03/23/5078376-sun.html | accessdate=2008-03-23]

Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama stated that if a film were to ever be made about his life, he would have Smith play his part, because "he has the ears". Obama stated that the two have discussed a possibility of a film based on the 2008 election.Cite web|url=http://movies.yahoo.com/mv/news/ap/20080226/120404628000.html|title=Will Smith Is Obama's Cinematic Pick|publisher=Yahoo! News|accessdate=2008-02-26|date=2008-02-26|quote=Will and I have talked about this because he has the ears!]

Personal life

Smith married Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had a son, Willard Christopher III, also known as "Trey", but divorced in 1995. Trey appeared in his father's music video for the 1998 single "Just The Two Of Us". Smith married actress Jada Pinkett in 1997. Together they have had two children: Jaden Christopher Syre (born 1998), his co-star in "The Pursuit of Happyness", and Willow Camille Reign, who appeared as his daughter in "I Am Legend" (born 2000). Along with his brother, Harry Smith, he owns Treyball Development Inc., [ [http://www.treyballdevelopment.com Treyball Development ] ] a Beverly Hills-based company named after his first son.

Smith has been consistently listed in Fortune Magazine's "Richest 40" list of the forty wealthiest Americans under the age of 40. Smith and his family reside on Star Island (Florida) in Miami, Florida and in Los Angeles, Stockholm, Sweden and Philadelphia. Smith donated a large amount of money to assist Katrina victims.Fact|date=December 2007 Smith donated $4,600 to the presidential campaign of Democrat Barack Obama.cite web|url=http://www.newsmeat.com/celebrity_political_donations/Will_Smith.php|title=Will Smith's Federal Campaign Contribution Report|accessdate=2008-01-11|work=newsmeat.com]

Smith has said he has studied multiple religions including Scientology and he has said many complimentary things about Scientology and other faiths. He and his wife are close friends of prominent Scientologists Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, which has led to rumors that Smith is also a Scientologist. Although Smith has said, "I just think a lot of the ideas in Scientology are brilliant and revolutionary and non-religious." [cite news|url=http://www.hollywood.com/news/Smith_Turns_Down_Cruises_Scientology_Bid/3591886|title=Smith Turns Down Cruise's Scientology Bid|publisher=Hollywood.com|date=2006-12-01] [cite news|url=http://www.blender.com/guide/articles.aspx?id=1604|title=Dear Superstar: Will Smith|publisher=Blender|author=Clark Collis|date=June 2005] and, "Ninety-eight percent of the principles in Scientology are identical to the principles of the Bible.... I don't think that because the word someone uses for spirit is 'thetan' that the definition becomes any different" [cite news|title=Will Smith Admits to Studying Scientology With Tom Cruise|publisher=US Magazine|url=http://www.usmagazine.com/node/13443|date=2007-11-20] , he has denied having joined the Scientology Church, saying "I am a Christian. I am a student of all religions, and I respect all people and all paths." [cite news|title=Will and Jada are not Scientologists|publisher=MSN Entertainment|url=http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/news/article.aspx?cp-documentid=7843428|date=2008-03-18] . After Jada made the film "Collateral" with Cruise in 2004, the couple donated USD$20,000 to Scientology's literacy campaign, called HELP, The Hollywood Education and Literacy Program, which is the basis for Scientology's home-schooling system. [cite news|title=Will Smith's Charities Include Scientology|author=Roger Friedman|publisher=FOX News|url=http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316808,00.html|date=2007-12-14] After finishing work on the film "Hancock", Smith gave crew members gift cards for a Scientology personality test at any Church of Scientology center as a wrap present; this despite the fact that initial personality tests given by the organization are usually free. [cite news | last =Cashmore | first =Pete | title =Will and disgrace: Is there any dirt at all to be found on Will Smith, the last action hero? Yes, says Pete Cashmore | work =The Guardian | publisher =Guardian News and Media Limited | date = June 21, 2008 | url =http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,2286600,00.html | accessdate = 2008-06-21 ]


* "Big Willie Style" (1997)
* "Willennium" (1999)
* "Born to Reign" (2002)
* "Lost and Found" (2005)


Box office grosses

Further reading

* Doeden, Matt (2007). " [http://books.google.com/books?id=ki8BOzIWi7wC&printsec=frontcover Will Smith] ". Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States: Lerner Publications, ISBN 0822566087


External links

* [http://www.willsmith.com/ Official site]
* (music)
* (comedy)

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