Will Smith (born Willard Christopher Smith Jr., 25.9.1968)
Will Smith is an American actor and film producer as well as a rapper. He is renowned as one of the highest-earning and most powerful actors in the world.
Will Smith: Childhood
Will Smith was born in West Philadelphia, to Caroline Smith and Willard Christopher Smith Snr. He was raised as a Baptist and when he was 13, his parents separated, though they did not divorce until he was 32 years old.
As a teen, he was nicknamed 'The Fresh Prince' and he began rapping with his friend Jeff Townes, who is better known as DJ Jazzy Jeff. Townes would mix and scratch records, whilst Smith was in charge of the lyrics.
Will Smith: Music Career
Will Smith's career in the entertainment business started out as one half of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. They also worked with Ready Rock C, the human beatboxer. They released a number of radio-friendly tracks, such as 'Summertime' and 'Parents Just Don't Understand'. During his early career, Smith failed to pay his income tax fully. The Inland Revenue eventually caught up with him and retrieved $2.8 million's worth of his possessions and money.
In 1996, after a hiatus from his music career to concentrate on acting, Smith returned to music as a solo artist. His first album, Big Willie Style was a massive commercial success and launched the singles 'Getting' Jiggy Wit It' and 'Just The Two Of Us'.
Will Smith's second solo album, released in 1999 was Willenium. The album featured the track 'Wild Wild West', a collaboration with Kool Moe Dee and Dru Hill.
Smith's third and fourth albums were Born to Reign and Lost and Found, released in 2002 and 2005 respectively
Will Smith: Acting Career
When he was near the point of bankruptcy, NBC signed Will Smith to a contract, and constructed the sitcom the Fresh Prince of Bel Air around him. The series also starred Tatyana Ali and James Avery and was hugely successful.
His major film debut came in 1993's Six Degrees Of Separation, which also starred Donald Sutherland and Ian McKellan. He followed this up with his big screen breakthrough, Bad Boys, an action film which also starred Martin Lawrence and was a huge box office hit.
In 1996, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended. Will Smith then began focusing not only on his solo music career but also on major league blockbuster movies. In 1996, he starred as a fighter pilot in Independence Day, alongside Jeff Goldblum and Randy Quaid.
Smith then went on to work alongside Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black the year after and the film became a global success. Will Smith status as a Hollywood favourite escalated, as did his earning potential.
In 1998, Will Smith starred in Enemy of the State, opposite Gene Hackman. Smith was then offered the main role of Neo in The Matrix but rejected the role in favour of the opportunity to star in Wild Wild West. The science-fiction comedy film was a flop, though Smith claims not to regret the decision and has publicly praised Keanu Reeves' performance in the Matrix films.
Despite the failure of Wild Wild West, Will Smith's career took an upturn when he starred in two sequels, Men In Black II and Bad Boys II. He then took the lead role in Hitch, opposite Eva Mendes, followed by I, Robot, another science-fiction film.
2001 was a pivotal year for Will Smith, when he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Muhammad Ali in the biopic, Ali. Five years later, he received another Oscar nomination when he played the role of Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness. The film also stars his son, Jaden Smith, as well as the actress Thandie Newton.
Between 2003 and 2007, Will Smith, along with his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, worked on the sitcom All Of Us, which was loosely based on their lives.
2007 was another successful year for Will Smith when he appeared in I Am Legend, an apocalyptic science fiction film. His daughter in the film is played by his real life daughter, Willow.
Will Smith: Personal Life
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett married in 1997. They have a son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, born in 1998 and a daughter, Willow Camille Reign Smith.