Will Smith: The Man in Black

Courtesy: IndieWire

Who doesn’t know Will Smith? This Bad Boy of Hollywood is a successful rapper, actor, and film producer. Having a victorious transition from a rapper to a Hollywood A-lister, Will’s journey inspires many. 

With popular series and films to his credit, including ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Men in Black’, ‘Hitch’, ‘Ali’, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, and more, Will is a living legend.

A legend was born: His early life

Will Smith made a debut in this world in Philadelphia on September 25, 1968. His parents were an interesting mix with his mother as a school board employee and his father as an U.S. Air Force veteran and refrigeration engineer. 

Although his family observed the Baptist faith, he went to the Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. He later went to Overbrook High School. 

His charming persona and regal attitude earned him the nickname of ‘Prince’, which he later adopted during his music career. 

Smith was only 12 when he began his stint with rapping. He would inject humorous elements in his writing, which later became his trademark.

The Fresh Prince: Will’s stint with music

The ‘Prince’ of high school, Will, took his nickname, changed it to ‘Fresh Prince’ and embarked on the journey of music with his schoolmate Jeffery Townes, a DJ. In 1986, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince released their first single, ‘Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble’, which became an instant hit. In 1987, the pair released ‘Rock the House’, their first album, which hit the Billboard Top 200, making Will a millionaire. They rode high on success with their back-to-back hits. Their album ‘He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper’ sold like hotcakes. 

Their single ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ made them a household name and got them a Grammy. In 1989, the pair did it again with ‘And In This Corner’. In 1993, they released ‘Code Red’, their last album together.

Will’s film breakthrough

‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ marked Will’s debut on television. This NBC television network sitcom proved to be a success. He followed his acting career with small roles in ‘Where The Day Takes You’ in 1992 and the comedy ‘Made in America’ in 1993. In the same year, Will featured in Six Degrees of Separation, his first major role. He earned critical acclaim for playing a street-wise gay hustler, a con-artist who landed at the door of an elite couple. With his effortless acting and persona, he shone amidst a power-packed star-cast including Stockard Channing, Ian McKellen, and Donald Sutherland. 

Will came face to face with superstardom with the release of ‘Bad Boys’ in 1995. In this cop movie, he shared the screen with Martin Lawrence. The film became an overnight success establishing Will as a successful actor, and there was no looking back. 

After tasting success in movies, Will went on to become a part of many commercial and critical hits like ‘Independence Day’ (1996), the sci-fi action, ‘Men in Black’ (1997), and ‘Enemy of the State’ (1998), 

The year 1997 marked the beginning of his solo music career. He created the theme song for ‘Men In Black’, which became a sensation topping the singles charts in many regions worldwide. He included ‘Men In Black’ and his second single ‘Just Cruisin’ in ‘Big Willie Style’, his debut solo album. The album made its place in the top 10 of the U.S. Billboard 200. It was also certified 9 times platinum by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The third single ‘Getting’ Jiggy wit it’ made it to Billboard Hot 100 number one. 

He later starred in Wild Wild West (1999) which bombed at the box-office, but its theme song became a hit. ‘The Legend of Beggar Vance’, released in 2000, also flopped at the box-office.

The spell of flops was broken in 2001 with the release of ‘Ali’. Smith swept the audience off the floor with his stalwart performance. Although the film received a lukewarm response on the box office, Smith won his first Academy Award nomination for the portrayal of the boxing megastar, Muhammad Ali.  

In 2002 and 2003, Will featured in the sequels of his hits ‘Men In Black’ and ‘Bad Boys’. Although ‘Men In Black II’ and ‘Bad Boys II’ weren’t flops, they failed to live up to their predecessors. His next, ‘I, Robot’ (2004) fared well. 

In 2005, Smith featured in ‘Hitched’, a rom-com, which turned out to be a massive success. His performance in the ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006) impressed the audience and the critics alike. His equation with Jaden, his real-life son, enthralled the audience, and he received an Academy Award nomination for the Best Actor. 

Smith repeated success with ‘I Am Legend’ (2007), ‘Hancock’ (2008), ‘Seven Pounds’ (2008), ‘Men in Black 3’ (2012), ‘Focus’ (2015), ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016), ‘Collateral Beauty’ (2016), and ‘Bright’ (2017). His film ‘Aladdin’ (2019) became his highest-grossing film. The same year he appeared in ‘Gemini Man’ and lent his voice to Lance Sterling, a spy, in the movie ‘Spies in Disguise’. 

He opened 2020 by returning to his cop-buddy franchise in ‘Bad Boys for Life’. 

His personal life

Will has been married twice. He married Sheree Zampino in 1992. The couple had a son Williard Smith III, born in 1992. The marriage lasted 3 years. Later, he married actress Jada Pinkett Smith in 1997. The couple has a son, Jaden, born in 1998, and a daughter, Willow, born in 2000. 

Smith is a known philanthropist. He has made sizable donations to Christian ministries, Scientology organizations, and many other religious organizations. He, along with his wife, has founded an elementary school in California.

Will Smith T-shirt

A con-artist, a bad-ass cop, a pilot fighting aliens, a dating consultant, a single father, Will Smith is a true hero. He has made us smile, laugh, cry, and jump on our seats with his numerous roles on the big screen. He has also made us tap our feet with his rap. 

It’s not easy to not love Will Smith. Show your love for him with our Will Smith commemorative t-shirts.

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