MOTW: Will Smith Bio

May 30th, 2013

MOTW: Will Smith Bio

Born Willard Christopher Smith Jr. on September 25, 1968, Will Smith has gone on to receive fame as an actor and film producer. Although Smith was born in Philadelphia, he lived in nearby Wynnefield for much of his childhood. Smith's mother Caroline worked as a local school administrator in the state of Pennsylvania, and his father owned a refrigeration company. Smith was the second of four children and is of African-American and Native American heritage. Smith's parents separated when their son was only 13 years old, but they did not officially divorce until much later on.

Will Smith attended Overbrook High School and quickly developed the nickname "Prince" due to his ability to charm his way out of almost any situation. After Smith graduated from high school, he had an opportunity to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on an engineering scholarship; however, he decided to pursue a career in the entertainment field.

After turning down college, Smith pursued a career in music. While at a party, he met Jeffrey Townes; the pair would go on to become the performing duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. They eventually picked up another group member, Ready Rock C, and became a trio.

The group quickly rose to fame and picked up the first Grammy awarded in the Rap category in 1988. Not long after, Smith became a target of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for unpaid taxes. Before going bankrupt, Smith was offered a lifeline when the NBC television network gave him a contract. Smith and close friend Benny Medina had an idea for a new sitcom and proposed the idea to the network. This resulted in the creation of the show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which really put Smith on the acting map.

The show went onto become a classic sitcom, but Smith wanted to make something more of his acting career. During the show's immensely successful six year run, Smith explored many different film roles. He wanted to become the biggest movie star in the world, and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" acted as his gateway to success. Throughout the early 1990s, Smith starred in "Six Degrees of Separation" and "Bad Boys." The latter film shot Smith into the national spotlight and led to a career-defining role in "Independence Day." Playing the role of Captain Steven Hiller, Smith brought back the genre of science fiction with a bang; the film raked in more than $800 million and was the second highest-grossing film ever at that time.

The following two summers, Smith was once again the main draw card on the big screen, this time, as Agent J in "Men in Black" and as Robert Clayton Dean in "Enemy of the State." In 1999, Smith had the option of starring in one of two films: "The Matrix" or "Wild Wild West." Smith chose the latter, but the film bombed at the box office. Afterwards, Smith acknowledged that perhaps he hadn't made the best choice, and the role of Neo in "The Matrix" would have suited him better.

Over the next few years, Smith's acting career seemed to dwindle; although, he did star in a couple of sequels ("Men in Black II" and "Bad Boys II"). The year 2005 resulted in an upturn in the fortunes of Smith due to a starring role in the film "Hitch." Smith received multiple award nominations as Alex Hitchens, and he also landed main roles in "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "I am Legend." In the former film, Smith's real-life son Jaden played the role of Smith's son on screen.

Smith's star could not get any brighter during the later years of the 2000s decade, with some film critics proclaiming him to be the number one box office draw in Hollywood. After Barack Obama became president in 2009, he mentioned Smith as the most suitable actor to play his part in a potential film about his rise to power.

In 2012, Smith reprised his role of Agent J in the film "Men in Black III." The film was a resounding success, and Smith mentioned the possibility of a fourth film being added to the franchise sometime in the future. In May 2013, Smith will star alongside his son Jaden in "After Earth;" he is also a producer and co-writer of this film. Many film critics are excited to see the acting potential Jaden is showing, but they are not ready to write off the acting talents of his father just yet.