Will Smith is one of the most popular and versatile celebrities of all time and one of the richest men in America under 45. This top A-list star has appeared in dozens of films. He has been a successful actor in several blockbuster, multi-million dollar films such as, Independence Day and Men in Black. He first made a name for himself as a rapper and won the very first American Music Award for that category. Smith first started acting when he took his Fresh Prince rapping act to the TV series the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. After his foray into TV he then started starring in feature films and the rest is history. It was a true meteoric rise from his humble beginnings in Philadelphia to where he is at today.
Along the way he has received several awards, such as, 6 American Music Awards, 3 NAACP Image Awards, 1 Saturn Award, 4 Grammy’s, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, in addition to being nominated for 2 Oscars and 4 Golden Globes. That is a pretty impressive list for anyone.
Here are some things you may not know about this celebrity icon.
10 His Real Name
If I asked you who Will Smith was everyone would reply the famous Hollywood actor. If I asked you who Willard Carroll Smith was, not many of you would know, but that is Will Smith’s birth name which was given to him on that day September 25, 1968. He is a junior who was named after his father. He was given the nickname prince because his quick wit and irresistible charm often got him out of big trouble. That nickname led him to choose his rap handle the ‘Fresh Prince”.
9 His Parents/Where He Grew Up
Will Smith never knew what is was like to be hungry or poor contrary to popular belief, nor was he from a rich entertainment family background which some have suggested also. His parents had no paying artistic talent, what he achieved he did so totally on his own and with his God given natural ability. His father owned a refrigeration company and his mother was a school board employee.
Where he grew up in Philadelphia was a neighborhood which was a melting pot of different cultures. It was a mix of Protestants, Catholics, Whites, Blacks, and Ironically even a large Jewish and Muslim population that lived side by side in peace.
Will Smith was raised a Baptist, but attended catholic school in his Philadelphia neighborhood. Smith said he did not mind following the strict rules there. It was long rumored that Will turned down a scholarship offer from MIT. In an interview with Smith, he cleared this up. He said his SAT scores were very high and his grades were good enough to probably get in with the connections he had there, a family friend of his mother’s worked in admissions and they were seeking to enroll more black students at the time. Will Smith revealed that he never seriously entertained plans to go to college at all. Can you blame someone who was already a millionaire at 18 for not wanting to go to college?
7 How His Career Got Started
He started copying his favorite rappers, like Grandmaster Flash, at age twelve. One night at a party, when he was 16, he met Jeff Towne and they immediately became good friends and started performing together spinning music, rapping, and entertaining. They became known as the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff (Towne) and The Fresh Prince (Smith). The duos music was popular rap because it stayed away from the edgy violent type rap that was prevalent on the west coast at the time. Their success eventually turned into the first recipients of the American Music award for the Rap category.
6 Facts about His Films
Will smith has an incredible amount of leads in films which have in turn grossed an incredible amount of money. Here are some of his accomplishments. 16 of the 20 feature films he has starred in have grossed over 100 million each. His films have grossed over a whopping 6.6 billion dollars at the worldwide box office.
He is the only person to have 8 straight films premiere at number 1 at the box office take. He narrowly missed Best Actor Oscar’s for the movies “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happiness”. His highest grossing film was “Independence Day” at $817 million, to which curiously Smith reportedly turned down a starring role in the sequel due to come out in 2016.
Although he and Jada Pinkett Smith are seen as the forever loving Hollywood couple, she was not Will Smith’s first wife. He had a brief 3 year marriage to his first wife Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had one son named after his father and nicknamed Trey.
He is a confirmed Liberal in politics. He donated over $5000 to President Obama’s campaign and then subsequently hosted the Presidents Nobel Peace Prize party in Oslo, Norway. He was named several times to Forbes richest men in America under 40 list.
As we mentioned before, Will Smith was raised a Baptist, but attended Catholic school in Philadelphia. Despite the amount of time he spent around the Catholic Faith he admits he accepted it, but never embraced it. He retained his Baptist roots well into his adulthood, but has since had a change of heart. He has been accused of following Scientology; he refuted that, but then added that he likes a lot of their philosophies on life and other things. He now claims to be nonreligious, not to be mistaken with atheistic. Among his millions of dollars in donations each year are Catholic charities, Jewish charities, Scientology Organizations, Muslim charities, and other religions too. So it is obvious that even though he claims no religion he certainly believes in what they are doing enough to support them.
3 He Likes To Include His Children in His Work
In Smith’s music video for the 1998 single "Just the Two of Us", his oldest son Trey made an appearance with his father. Will Smith and his Brother’s production company is named after him too, Treyball Productions. Jaden co-starred with his father in both the Hollywood flop After Earth and the critically acclaimed The Pursuit of Happiness, which the elder Smith narrowly missed winning the Oscar for.
Willow played his fictional movie daughter in the box office hit I am Legend. His willingness to include his family in his movie and music ventures only confirms his reputation as an excellent and caring father.
2 He Passed On the Golden Opportunity to Work With Tarantino and Get an Oscar Nomination
When offered the lead role in 2012's Django Unchained, Smith felt that the other main character was the lead, not Django, and Smith wanted to have a clear lead role. Tarantino insisted that he was the co-main lead and it was necessary to be this way for his vision of the film to work. Tarantino pointed out that the two characters feed off each other.
Will Smith still did not buy it when he asked if he could change a scene; he wanted to kill Leonardo Dicaprio’s character in a scene where Django let him live. Tarantino said no because letting him live was important to the overall context of not only the scene, but the movie itself. It was said they agreed to disagree and parted on amicable terms so you never know what the future may hold there. Will Smith did go on to say that he thought it was a “brilliant movie”; it was just not one he envisioned himself in.
1 Will and His Wife Were Just Recently Investigated By Child Services
Even though Will and his wife Jada seem to live a charmed life as a true Hollywood couple in love, it has not been without its problems. They are currently being investigated by the Los Angeles Department of Child Protection services. All this came about when a photo surfaced of their 13 year old daughter lying clothed on a bed with a 20 year old shirtless actor who was later revealed to be a close friend of the family. The actor’s lower half of his body was beneath the sheets so it is not known if he was fully nude or not. Jada Pinkett Smith claimed that the photo was completely harmless and taken fully out of context by a headline grabbing journalist. Apparently the police were not so convinced as the incident is still under investigation pending the testimony of the 20 year old actor in question.