Will Smith

Will Smith in Men in Black 3

Will Smith in “Men in Black 3”

One of the most personable stars in Hollywood today, Will Smith has been breaking barriers his whole life. Whether it was his unexpected success in the hip-hop community or his sudden rise to fame as an actor, Will has somehow managed to become of the highest paid actors today, a feat that should confuse the fair crowd of skeptical critics and audiences as to Will’s true acting talents. Born as Willard C. Smith in Philadelphia, 1968, Will quickly teamed up with childhood pal Jeffrey Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff) fifteen years later and created a rap duo that used child-like comedy in place of the graphic lyrics that were infesting the music world. Imitating their heroes, Run DMC, the duo quickly hit it off and became known as DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.

After releasing the Grammy-winning album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper with chart-topping songs like “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” the pair went on to win a number of more Grammy awards including “Best Rap Performance” in 1988. Will was at the top of his game by age 18, though he quickly fell into bankruptcy two years later. Luckily for the struggling teenage, Will secured a role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1989, perhaps the most successful black family sitcom since “The Cosby Show.” Playing the title role of the TV series, Will became a national success and continued to star on the show for six years until he decided to move on to bigger and better things.

In 1993, Will scored his first major film role in “Six Degrees of Separation” as a homosexual con artist. While Will feared the role might hurt his chances of becoming a major Hollywood player, he gained critical recognition for his performance and went on to star in the action-comedy “Bad Boys” with fellow rising comedian Martin Lawrence. The film was a surprising success to both actors, and in 1996, Will was lured into starring in the sci-fi blockbuster “Independence Day” with a multi-million dollar paycheck already signed. He followed up in 1997 with another summer blockbuster, “Men in Black,” and hasn’t looked back since.

After a rocky marriage to his former wife Sheree Zampino, Will smartly wed knockout beauty Jada Pinkett that same year and has turned their marriage into one of the most talked about celebrity couples in the business. Tired of saving the world time and again, Will shifted his acting priorities to more dramatic roles in the late 90’s with “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “Ali,” and although the latter film garnered a few “Best Actor” nominations, Will never won. Aside from appearing in two money-spinning sequels and set to return to his status as a sci-fi action star in 2004, Will Smith has become an international star. Turning out hit singles to number of his films, Will has continued to whet his appetite for musical success when he has the time. But until then, the Fresh Prince shouldn’t have to worry about going bankrupt for a long time.

Will on the Screen and Radio

Will Smith most certainly isn’t known for his musical talents as a rapper, but it was through his music that he became a Hollywood star. Before landing his role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Will released a number of albums with Philadelphia-raised partner and friend DJ Jazzy Jeff including Rock the House (1987), the immensely popular He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper (1988), And in This Corner (1989), Homebase (1991) and Code Red (1993). After Will starred in the testosterone-filled sci-fi action film “Independence Day,” the actor/rapper felt that his good-natured music would hurt his image and he decided to go solo in 1997 with Big Willie Style. He then released two more albums, Willenium (1999) and Born to Reign (2002), along with a number of tracks on some of his summer blockbusters like “Men in Black,” “Men in Black II” and “Wild, Wild West.”

Will has become one of the leading action heroes in the past years with the impressive films already listed, but he has also appeared in the critically acclaimed “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Bad Boys” and its ten-year anniversary sequel, “Enemy of the State” and the Mohammed Ali biopic “Ali.” More recent films include the sci-fi themed “Hancock,” “I Am Legend” and “Men in Black III.”

Will Says

On becoming famous:
“Money and success don’t change people; they merely amplify what is already there.”