His full name is Williard Carroll Smith Jr. and he was born on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother Caroline was a school board administrator and his father Willard was a U.S. Air Force Veteran and refrigeration engineer.
Will has an elder sister named Pamela and two younger siblings, twins Harry and Ellen. His parents split when he was 13 and officially divorced in 2000.
After high school, Will declined a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a pre-engineering summer program. Will wanted to pursue his rap career and wasn’t interested in continuing his studies even though he had very high grades.
First Steps Towards Stardom
The moment that changed Will’s path was when he was introduced to Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes. Townes was throwing a party close to Smith’s house, and he was missing his hype man. Will took this opportunity and saved the day.
After this event, both became excellent friends and started mixing their talents. They created a group called DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Will invited his friend Clarence Holmes to join the duo as the beatboxer.
Their first single, called “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble” was released by Word Up Records in 1985. The song became wildly popular a month before Will graduated from High-School.
The group received their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (1988), their second most popular single was “Summertime” (1991) with which the group earned their second Grammy Award and rose to number 4 of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Fall And The Rise of Will Smith
Along with his success and at a young age, Will underpaid his income taxes in 1988 and 1989. The Internal Revenue Service noticed this and assessed $2.8 million tax debt against him.
Under pressure to pay his back taxes, Will signed with NBC television network in 1990 to be the lead in a new sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. The show was a hit, and with this opportunity, he started his acting career.
1993 – First major role of Will in Six Degrees of Separation
1995 – Will starred in the film Bad Boys opposite Martin Lawrence
1996 – Independence Day This was a great success in his career, positioning him as a prime box office draw.
In this same year, Will began his solo career with the release of the theme song for Men in Black, which got into the top lists of songs.
1998 – Will starred with Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State and the next year he declined the role of Neo in The Matrix movie because he decided to go for the movie Wild Wild West, which wasn’t successful. Will also released a musical album with the main song being the theme for Wild Wild West. This album reached number five on the Billboard list and was certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA.
2002 – After 4 years of a musical pause, Will released his third album Born to Reign where the lead single was the theme song of the film Men in Black II, called Black Suits Comin. Initially, the film saw negative reviews, but the film was definitely a success, grossing $270 million worldwide.
2006 – Will and his son Jaden Smith act together in the film The Pursuit of Happiness.
2007 – Will carried the film I Am Legend, this film gets very positive reviews, and its opening was the largest ever for a movie released in the United States during December.
2008 – Will was the main character in the movie Hancock, which grossed $624,386,746 worldwide.
2011 – Will announced that he returned to the studio with producer La Mar Edwards to work on his fifth album.
2012 – The movie Men in Black III was released. Will expressed this was his last performance in the series, and it was the highest-grossing MiB movie.
2013 – Will starred in the film After Earth with his son Jaden Smith. This film was a rare miss for Smith, causing Will to take a break from acting for a year and a half.
2016 – Will played Deadshot as a supervillain in the action film Suicide Squad. At the end of the year, Will starred the drama Collateral Beauty in which the character succumbs in a deep depression after a personal tragedy. After this, Will’s father was diagnosed with cancer, eventually losing his battle. In the movie Collateral Beauty, Will needed to learn about afterlife and religion, and he calls this experience “a beautiful way to prepare for a movie and an even more majestic way to say goodbye to his father.”
2018 – Will performed the official song Live it Up with the American singer Nicky Jam and Kosovar singer Era Istrefi at the closing ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, Rusia. in this same year, Will appeared with Bad Bunny, on the Marc Anthony video song Esta Rico.
2019 – Will portrayed The Genie in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin. Aladdin grossed over $1 billion worldwide, becoming Will’s highest-grossing film, surpassing Independence Day. Later this year Will starred in Spies in Disguise, opposite Tom Holland.