Will Smith Biography & Facts
Willard Carroll Smith II (born September 25, 1968), also known by his stage name the Fresh Prince, is an American actor, rapper, and producer. Noted for his work in music, television, and film, Smith has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, four Grammy Awards, and nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Tony Award. His Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony nominations make him one of few black individuals to be nominated for the four major American entertainment awards (EGOT). Smith has achieved and held several US and international box office records. As of 2021, his films have grossed over $9.3 billion globally, making him one of Hollywood's most bankable stars.Smith first gained recognition as part of a hip hop duo with DJ Jazzy Jeff, with whom he released five studio albums and the US Billboard Hot 100 top 20 singles "Parents Just Don't Understand", "A Nightmare on My Street", "Summertime", "Ring My Bell", and "Boom! Shake the Room" from 1984 to 1994. He released the solo albums Big Willie Style (1997), Willennium (1999), Born to Reign (2002), and Lost and Found (2005), which contained the US number one singles "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" and "Wild Wild West".
Smith achieved wider fame for his fictionalized self-portrayal on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996). He subsequently starred in the action film Bad Boys (1995), its sequels Bad Boys II (2003) and Bad Boys for Life (2020), and the sci-fi comedies Men in Black (1997), Men in Black II (2002), and Men in Black 3 (2012). After starring in the thrillers Independence Day (1996) and Enemy of the State (1998), he portrayed Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001), earning his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He then starred in a range of commercially successful films, including I, Robot (2004), Shark Tale (2004), Hitch (2005), Hancock (2008), and Seven Pounds (2008). He received his second Academy Award nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and commercial success for I Am Legend (2007).
Smith's portrayal of Bennet Omalu in Concussion (2015) was positively received, followed by portrayals of Deadshot in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) superhero film Suicide Squad (2016) and Genie in the live-action Aladdin (2019). For his portrayal of Richard Williams in the biographical sports drama King Richard (2021), Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the first rapper to win an acting Oscar, 33 years after he became the first musician to win a Grammy for rap music. Smith faced public backlash for slapping and shouting at Oscar presenter Chris Rock during the 2022 annual Academy Awards ceremony, after Rock made a joke referencing Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith subsequently resigned from the Academy and was banned from attending Academy functions, including the Oscars, for ten years.
Smith was born on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia to Caroline (née Bright), a school board administrator, and Willard Carroll Smith Sr., a U.S. Air Force veteran and refrigeration engineer. His mother graduated from Carnegie Mellon University.He grew up in West Philadelphia's Wynnefield neighborhood and was raised Baptist. He has an elder sister named Pamela and two younger siblings, twins Harry and Ellen. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes, a private Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia, and Overbrook High School. His parents separated when he was 13 and divorced around the year 2000.Smith began rapping at age 12. When his grandmother found a notebook of his lyrics, which he described as containing "all [his] little curse words", she wrote him a note on a page in the book: "Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like this to express themselves. Please show the world that you're as smart as we think you are". Smith said that this influenced his decision not to use profanity in his music.
1985–1992: The Fresh Prince
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. Townes and Smith were introduced to each other by chance in 1985, as Townes was performing at a house party only a few doors down from Smith's residence, and he was missing his hype man. Smith decided to fill in. They both felt strong chemistry, and Townes was upset when his hype man finally made it to the party.Soon after, the two decided to join forces. Smith enlisted a friend to join as the beatboxer of the group, Clarence Holmes (Ready Rock C), making them a trio. Philadelphia-based Word Records released their first single in 1986 when A&R man Paul Oakenfold introduced them to Champion Records with their single "Girls Ain't Nothing but Trouble," a tale of funny misadventures that landed Smith and his former DJ and rap partner Mark Forrest (Lord Supreme) in trouble. The song sampled the theme song of "I Dream of Jeannie." Smith became known for light-hearted story-telling raps and capable, though profanity-free, "battle" rhymes. The single became a hit a month before Smith graduated from high school.Based on this success, the duo were brought to the attention of Jive Records and Russell Simmons. The duo's first album, Rock the House, which was first released on Word Up in 1986 debuted on Jive in March 1987. The group received the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for "Parents Just Don't Understand" (1988), though their most successful single was "Summertime" (1991), which earned the group their second Grammy and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Smith and Townes are still friends and claim that they never split up, having made songs under Smith's solo performer credit.Smith spent money freely around 1988 and 1989 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. Smith was struggling financially 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 began his acting career. Smith set for himself the goal of becoming "the biggest movie star in the world", studying box office successes' common characteristics. In 1989, Smith was arrested in relation to an alleged assault on his record promoter, William Hendricks; all charges were dismissed.
1993–1997: Solo music and film breakthrough
Smith's first major roles were in the drama Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and the action film Bad Boys (1995) in which he starred opposite Martin Lawrence. The latter film was commercially successful, grossing $141.4 million worldwide. However, critical reception was generally mixed. In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day. The film was a massive blockbuster, becoming the second highest-grossing f.... Discover the Will Smith popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Will Smith books.