How Will Smith became one of the most successful actors in the world

In 1989 , a young rapper who had become a millionaire at the age of 18, was left bankrupt after being seized by the US tax collection agency. Worried about his situation, he decides to look for opportunities in the acting world, thus starting a prosperous career that would lead him to become one of the richest, most successful and most admired actors in the world… How did he do it?

The protagonist of this story is Willard Christopher Smith Jr. , better known as Will Smith, who was born on September 25, 1968 in  Philadelphia , United States .

Will is the second of four children. His father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr. , owned a refrigerator company; and his mother, Caroline Bright , was an administrator at a Philadelphia school .

At a very young age he showed a great talent for music. He stood out for having a very fast tongue and for his ability to easily get out of problems, for this reason his friends and teachers nicknamed him “Fresh Prince” . Will loved to comically imitate musicians from the hip-hop industry, such as Grandmaster Flash . His attitude would be the personal seal that would make him stand out from the rest.

Also, as a child he showed incredible mental ability. His talent with the Rubik’s cube has allowed him to reach the record of 55 seconds to solve it completely. His IQ is 115 , making him one of the smartest celebrities in Hollywood.

In his childhood, he received a lesson that would serve him for the rest of his life. His father knocked down a brick wall that was in front of his business, and he commissioned 12-year-old Will and his 9-year-old brother to rebuild it; a job that they considered to be impossible. It took them a year and a half, but they did it. So, their father told them: “Never tell me there is something you can’t do” .

His beginnings in music

When Will was 13 years old, his parents decided to separate, but this event did not affect the charismatic personality that characterized the little one. 3 years later, he met Dj Jeff Townes , with whom he established a strong friendship. Together they created the duo “Dj Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince” .

Will was always clear that he wanted to dedicate himself to music, so after finishing school he rejected the opportunity to enter the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) . Although he was an outstanding student, going to university was not in his plans.

In 1987, the duo Dj Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince released their first single, called “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” , from the album “Rock The House” , which would turn young people into millionaires with only 18 and 22 year old.

Later, they brought in Clarence Holmes , known as “Ready Rock C” , to be the human beat boxer in the group.

The trio was famous for their comedic songs. In 1988 , they released 3 hit singles: “Parents Just Don’t Understand” , “Brand New Funk” and “Nightmare on My Street” , on an album titled “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper” , which won the double platinum and for which they won their first Grammy in the rap category. Later, they would get the same award for the hit “Summertime” in 1991 .

During the first part of his musical career, Will was close to death, when signing his first agreement with a gangster, he shot the car in which he was driving with his friend Jeff .

“He was a little-known mobster, but the bullets were real. As we drove away, I shot the car five or six times. It was pretty scary, but you don’t think about it while it’s happening, you just try to escape. He would have killed us if he could have aimed better.” I remember the actor.

Breaking out as an actor

In 1989 , he was imprisoned for allegedly ordering an assault on his manager at the time, William Hendricks . It is rumored that Will ordered the bodyguard to beat him up after having a heated argument, for which the actor spent a night in a Philadelphia prison; however, he has denied these charges, claiming that he simply arrived when the altercation had already begun.

Will ‘s career seemed very promising, until he faced his first big flop with the album “And In This Corner…” , in which he had invested most of his money. The young singer went from triple platinum to selling just half a million copies, which caused him to lose a lot of money.

Added to his legal troubles and the setback in his musical career, the United States Tax Collection Agency (IRS) accused him of tax evasion, after accumulating a debt of $2.8 million dollars. To deal with the debt, his assets were seized and he was practically bankrupt.

After these events, his mood was down. He just spent hours lying at home. His girlfriend, tired of seeing him like this, encouraged him to appear at the Arsenio Hall show , and, although Will did not want to do it, she saw it as a good opportunity to find a solution to his financial problems, so he ended up attending.

On the show, she met a boy named Benny Medina, who was directing a comedy series for NBC about the experiences and antics of a boy sent by his mother to live with wealthy relatives in Beverly Hills. This series was inspired by Benny ‘s own experience living with the family of a wealthy friend in his college years.

Benny saw in Will the mischievousness, charisma and talent that made him the perfect person to play the leading role, so he told him about the idea and suggested that he audition.

In December 1989 , Will was invited to a party with many celebrities. That would be the place where Benny would introduce him to Quincy Jones, the show’s producer.

To Will’s surprise, Quincy asked him to audition right then and there:

“Quincy gave me a script. He told me that he didn’t have time and that he had 10 minutes to study the script. They were going to ask people to clear the living room of the house to audition.” -Count Smith.

Will didn’t feel ready to audition at the time. He tried to convince the producer to do it in a week, but it didn’t work out.

With no other choice, he auditioned and finished to praise and applause from everyone in attendance.

Among the people watching was Brandon Tartikoff , president of NBC, along with other producers for the channel. Quincy took the opportunity to ask Brandon if he liked the audition, which he answered affirmatively. Immediately, Quincy called some lawyers so that the contract to make the series could be signed in front of them. Three months later, they were recording the pilot chapter.

During the casting process, Will met his second and current wife, Jada Pinkett , who was auditioning to be his girlfriend on the series. Although Jada was not selected, they did remain connected and maintained a relationship that would materialize years later until marriage.

The series “El Principe del Rap en Bel-Air” , known in English as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” , aired on September 10, 1990 and was a resounding success worldwide, establishing itself as one of the most iconic and popular productions of the 90’s . In total, 148 episodes were broadcast over 6 seasons . The last episode was broadcast on May 20, 1996 .

The success of the series catapulted Will ‘s career as an actor and opened the doors to work in various productions.

His first participation in a feature film was in 1992 in “Where the day takes you” , a successful melodrama in which he played Manny , a man with no legs who tries to survive on the streets of Los Angeles with his friends. Later, he participated in “Made in America”  ​​and in “Six Degrees of Separation” . Although these productions did not have the expected success, they served for Will to demonstrate his full potential.

In 1995 , he divorced his then wife, Sheree Zampino , whom he had married three years earlier and had a son named Willard Carroll Smith III , better known as Trey Smith.

The pinnacle of his acting career

His next appearance on the big screen was in the movie “Bad Boys” , alongside comic actor  Martin Lawrence . From there, his acting career would grow successfully, participating in productions such as “El Dia de la Independencia” , his second highest grossing film to date, with a collection of more than $800 million dollars ; and “Men in Black ,” which was also a box office hit, grossing more than $580 million . Thanks to his outstanding performances in these films, he became one of the most acclaimed and beloved actors in Hollywood.

As a fun fact, the role of “Agent J” in Men in Black was not written for Will . The first choices for the character were Chris O’Donnell and David Schwimmer , but both turned down the opportunity. It is said that Will was chosen to play the protagonist of the film because the wife of director Barry Sonnenfeld was a big fan of “The Fresh Prince of Rap” . Will didn’t want to be typecast as “the guy from the alien movies” , so he turned down the offer at first; however, Steven Spielberg himself, who was in charge of the production of the film, called him on the phone to speak with him, managing to convince him to accept the role.

In 1997 , Will released his first solo album, titled “Big Willie Style” . The album was a total success. Some of his songs were positioned at the top of major music charts worldwide. That same year, he married actress  Jada Pinkett , with whom he would have two children:  Jaden and  Willow Smith .

In 1998 , he starred in the movie “Public Enemy” , which was a box office success, grossing over $250 million .

In 1999 , he took on a leading role in “Wild Wild West” , a film that was considered a failure, since productions in which he had previously participated had achieved better results with lower budgets. Also, this was the movie he decided to shoot when he turned down the role of Neo in the hit movie “The Matrix” .

“This is the story. I’m not proud, but it’s the truth. I did reject the role of Neo in The Matrix… If I had accepted, Keanu would not have been there, which was perfect. If I had accepted, it would have ruined the Matrix; so I did them a favor.” -Mentioned in a video on his YouTube channel.

In 2005 , he was cast for the role of John Smith in  “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” , but ultimately Brad Pitt was  chosen to play the character.

Also, he was close to snatching the leading role from Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie “Inception” . During pre-production, Will Smith and Brad Pitt were considered to play Dominick Cobb . The film’s director, Christopher Nolan , gave Brad Pitt 48 hours to accept the role; However, the actor could not answer in a timely manner, so the next on the list was Will Smith, who did not either, so DiCaprio kept the role.

Despite his relapse with Wild Wild West and his frustration at turning down the lead in The Matrix , the actor never gave up and continued to work hard on his career.

In 2001 , he starred in “Ali” , a biopic about the history of boxing icon Muhammad Ali . Thanks to this role he got his first Oscar nomination for best actor.

In the following years, eight films would be released with which he would establish the record for the largest number of consecutive successes of more than $100 million at the box office in the United States. These films were: “Men in Black II” , in 2002; “Bad Boys II” , in 2003; “I, Robot” , in 2004; “The Shark Scare” , also in 2004; “Hitch” , in 2005; “In Search of Happiness” , in 2006, in which he starred with his son Jaden Smith and with which he got his second Oscar nomination for best actor and a Golden Globe nomination for best actor dramatic; “I’m legend”, in 2007; and “Hancock” , in 2008.

His streak would end with “Seven Souls” , which was also released in 2008. The film did not have the expected success and only collected $70 million dollars at the box office in the United States.

In 2012 , “Men in Black III” was released , which became the highest grossing film in the saga, with a total collection of $624 million dollars .

Overcoming difficult moments

In 2013 , what Will considers “the biggest failure of his career” was released : “After Earth” , a science fiction movie in which he starred with his son Jaden . The Monday after the premiere, after looking at the box office figures, he noticed that they were far below productions like “Hancock” and “Hitch” , feeling devastated. But this would not be the only bad news that he would receive that day.

“I was totally devastated for 24 minutes, then I got a call that my father had cancer, which put it all in perspective in a cruel way.” –I told in an interview.

All these events made the actor change the perspective of seeing his life, taking him away from the cameras for a while to focus on his personal and family relationships.

At this stage of his life, he remembered a quote from the El Principe del Rap series , in which his character’s aunt tells him: “Don’t let success go to your head, nor let failure go to your heart. ” .

After a vacation, he made his return to the big screen in 2014 with the movie “Winter’s Tale”, which failed at the box office and was heavily criticized. Later, she participated in “Focus” , “Hidden Truth” and “Suicide Squad” .

In 2016 , he starred in “The Unexpected Beauty”, a film that, according to the actor, helped him prepare for the death of his father. In November of that same year, his ex-wife, Sheree Zampino , posted on Instagram a photo of Will with his father and his first child, hinting at the death of his ex-father-in-law.

In a book on the life of Will Smith, he claims that his father prevented him from falling into drugs when he was younger, taking him to dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia to show him what life was like for people who consumed hallucinogenic substances, thus leaving him a lesson that I mark it deeply.

After the death of his father, the actor has worked on various productions, including “Bright” , a movie for Netflix; “Aladdin ,” his highest-grossing film to date, grossing more than $1 billion ; “Project Gemini” , which was a commercial failure; and the third part of “Bad Boys”, a sequel that came 17 years after its predecessor.

In 2020 , he broke a new record, but this time with a bitter taste. A program in which his wife confessed an infidelity to him became “the most viewed broadcast on Facebook in 24 hours” , adding more than 15 million viewers.

Millionaire actor, successful and generous

Currently, Will is 52 years old , has a personal fortune of more than $ 350 million dollars , is one of the highest paid actors in the world and is ranked number 13 of the most important stars of all time, just behind Eddie Murphy. In total, he has recorded more than 30 movies that add up to a box office collection of more than $9,000 million dollars , being one of the highest grossing actors in history. In addition to being admired for his great charisma and talent, he also stands out for his philanthropic work, contributing to various social causes related mainly to supporting disadvantaged people. From theIn 2016 , the successful actor participates in a boycott of the Academy Awards and does not attend ceremonies as a protest against the lack of diversity among the candidates. In the future, it is expected to see him in “Bad Boys 4” ; in “Bel-Air” , an adaptation based on “The Fresh Prince of Rap” ; and he could even personify Barack Obama in his biographical film, since it was the former president himself who gave him his approval.

Thus we conclude the inspiring story of Will Smith , a talented singer and actor who savored the joys of success and suffered from the rudeness of failure from a very young age, but who was able to overcome the most difficult moments of his life with determination, becoming an example of tenacity. , effort and dedication for new generations of artists and entrepreneurs. In his own words:

“There is no easy way. No matter how talented you are, your talent will fail you if you don’t develop it, if you don’t study, if you don’t work hard, if you don’t dedicate yourself to being better every day.”

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