Actor Spotlight: Will Smith


When thinking of Willard Carroll “Will” Smith Jr. words such as outstanding, remarkable, and humorous should come to mind because indeed he is that and more. Will Smith as he is known by the masses was born on September 25, 1968 in West Philadelphia. He is the son of Caroline Bright who served as a school board administrator and Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., a refrigeration engineer. He has three siblings, Pamela and twins Harry and Ellen. Smith attended Our Lady of Lourdes, a private Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia. He proceeded on to Overbrook High School where he earned his high school diploma. He never applied to any colleges because he wanted to begin his music career as a rapper.

Smith began his rap career as an MC of the Hip-Hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince with his childhood friend Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes as the turntablist and producer. The duo was known for performing humorous, radio-friendly songs, most notably ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ and ‘Summertime’. They gained critical acclaim and won the first Grammy awarded in the Rap category in 1988. In 1990, Smith’s popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for six seasons from 1990-1996 on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. After the series ended, Smith transitioned from television to film and ultimately starred in numerous blockbuster films. His first major roles were in the drama Six Degrees of Separation in 1993 and the action film Bad Boys in 1995 in which he starred opposite Martin Lawrence. In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day. The film was a massive blockbuster hit, becoming the second highest-grossing film in history at the time and establishing Smith as a prime box office draw. In the summer of 1997 he starred in the hit Men in Black playing Agent J opposite Tommy Lee Jones. The movie, which had two successful spin offs, became a very lucrative franchise which grossed well over $1 billion. Smith is the only actor to have eight consecutive films to gross over 100 million dollars in the domestic box office. He has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards. He received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination in 2001 for his performance as boxer Muhammad Ali in the film, Ali and his second for the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness.

Smith is married to Jada Koren Pinkett and they have two children Jaden and Willow. Smith has another child, Trey, from a previous marriage. The Smiths reside in Los Angeles, California.