Will Smith, born on September 25, 1968, is a well-known American actor who made his debut as a rap artist, working with D.J. Jazzy Jeff and beatboxer Ready Rock C. A successful vocalist, he received a Grammy Award and at 25, he made his film debut in “Six Degrees of Separation.” From then on, there was no going back for this talented young star. His powerful performances showcase his adaptability and that this star is here to stay. Many filmmakers thought the actor was a breath of fresh air because he could play emotional roles as effortlessly as action heroes. Today we celebrate this icon and his many accomplishments.
Will Smith was born in Philadelphia on September 25, 1968, to parents Caroline, a Philadelphia school administrator, and Willard Carroll Smith Sr., a United States Air Force veteran and refrigeration engineer. Raised in Wynnefield, West Philadelphia, and decided to pursue a music career after graduating from high school rather than attend college.
Smith began his career as the M.C. of the hip-hop duo D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, alongside his boyhood buddy Jeffrey “D.J. Jazzy Jeff” Townes as producer and Ready Rock C as the human beatbox. Smith and D.J. Jazzy Jeff’s hit single ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ (1988), received the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989.
His acting career launched in 1990 when the NBC television network contracted
him for the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” a fictional version of himself. The show was a success.
Smith’s feature film debut came in 1993 with “Six Degrees of Separation.” The film was popular and Smith was widely recognized as an extraordinary performer. In 1996, he appeared in “Independence Day.” Other box office hits followed: the cult film series “Men in Black” (1997) in the iconic role of “Agent J.” opposite famed actor Tommy Lee Jones. He co-starred with veteran Gene Hackman in the successful film “Enemy of the State” (1998).
From 1999 to 2001, he appeared in films such as “Wild Wild West,” “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” and “Ali,” based on the life and career of boxer Muhammad Ali, which garnered an Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Actor.’
Over the next few years, he appeared in films such as “I, Robot,” “Shark Tale,” “Hitch,” and “Pursuit of Happiness.” From 2007 to 2014, the skilled actor appeared in the following films: “I Am Legend,” “Hancock,” “Seven Pounds,” “After Earth,” and “Winter’s Tale.” All of these films were commercially and critically successful. Smith starred in the 2015 film “Focus” as the male lead alongside Australian actress Margot Robbie. The film “Concussion,” in which he co-starred with Alec Baldwin, received excellent reviews the same year. Among his many notable works are “Bad Boys For Life,” “Aladdin,” “Suicide Squad,” and “King Richard.” The latter bagged him three awards: the Academy Award for ’Best Actor,’ the Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama,’ and the Screen Actors Guild Award for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.’
Smith has three children: Willard Carroll “Trey” Smith III (1992), from his first wife, Sheree, and is currently married to actress Jada Koren Pinkett Smith. The couple has two children, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith (1998) and Willow Camille Reign Smith (2000).
Clarence Holmes (Ready Rock C), a friend of Smith's, joins as the group's beatboxer, making them a trio; they receive the Grammy Award for ‘Best Rap Performance’ for ‘Parents Just Don't Understand.’
He signs a contract with NBC and creates the comedy, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" around his character.
He is nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama’ for his performance in "Ali."
Smith is recognized at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and leaves an imprint of his hands and feet in front of a large crowd of fans.
Smith becomes the fifth black actor to win the Academy Award for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in the biographical sports drama “King Richard.”
Why We Love Will Smith
He is a great actor
Will Smith is so versatile and can do everything: comedy, drama, and action. We are so proud that "Forbes" magazine rated him one of the "greatest actors" of his generation.
He is a fantastic person
Smith's worldwide appeal stems from more than simply his ability to act, rap, and create YouTube videos. He's genuinely warm-hearted and has utilized his celebrity and wealth for numerous causes, including bungee jumping from a helicopter over the Grand Canyon for his 50th birthday.
Smith is a multi-talented musical performer
Smith started his career in the entertainment industry as a rapper known as “Fresh Prince.” He has not only published multiple albums, but he has also performed songs for several of the films in which he has appeared, including "Men in Black," "I Am Legend," and "Shark Tale." "Aladdin" was a musical, and Smith sang the classic songs with his trademark passion.
5 Surprising Facts
Eight consecutive films grossed $100 million
Will Smith set a record by releasing eight movies in a row, generating $100 million in the United States between 2002 and 2008.
A millionaire before he turned 20
After the breakthrough album, "Rock The House" (1987) debuted at number 83 on the Billboard Top 200, Smith became a billionaire before his 20th birthday.
Solving a Rubik’s Cube in 55 seconds
Tyson Mao, the world blindfolded Rubik's Cube-solving champion, taught Smith the fundamentals, and he practiced until he could complete the cube in 55 seconds for his character in "The Pursuit of Happiness."
Playing Barack Obama in a fictional film
According to Smith, Obama would indeed be delighted for Smith to play him in a film.
He holds a world record
Until 2009, he held the Guinness World Record for most public appearances in 12 hours.
Will Smith FAQs
Did Will Smith resign from The Academy?
Smith tendered his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on April 1, 2022, after an altercation with host, comedian Chris Rock.
What is Will Smith’s real name?
His real name is Willard Carroll Smith Jr.
Did Will Smith go to acting school?
No, he did not, preferring to pursue a career in rapping.
Will Smith’s birthday dates