The Life And Fame of The Fresh Prince, Will Smith
Will Smith has been entertaining people for years now and is one of the top actors in the industry. Would you like to know more about this incredible man? Then you should check out this article which goes over the life of the Fresh Prince and how he rose to fame. Not many people know that Will Smith started his career by creating rap music and was the first to be awarded a Grammy in the rap category. He started his acting career later than you think but still rose to be one of the best in the industry.
Will Smith has been through some ups and downs, making him more relatable and why he is so loved worldwide. So if you want to learn more about the Fresh Prince, check out this article!
Will Smith's Childhood
Willard Carroll Smith was born on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Caroline, was a school board administrator who taught Smith early on to read and write. His father, Willard, was a U.S. Air Force veteran and worked as a refrigerator engineer after that eventually owning his own business. Smith grew up in a good neighborhood with his three siblings, Pamela, Harry, and Ellen.
His parents didn't get along very well and split up when Smith was about 12 years old. This was the same year that Smith would get into rapping, which would end up changing his life forever.
Will Smith Growing Up
Will Smith went to Overbrook High School, where he continued to rap and was quickly one of the most popular kids, not because of what he did but because of his personality, which really made him stand out. One thing that made Smith's rap music different was that he never used curse words like many rap groups were doing at the time.
This is because his grandmother found his lyric notebook one day and saw how much profanity he was using, so she told him that intelligent people don't use words like that; since then, Smith has not used bad words in his songs.
The Fresh Prince
Will Smith got his nickname, The Fresh Prince, in high school since he was a laid-back guy that everyone liked, and it stuck with him. Smith's rapping career started gaining traction when he was in high school. While he was in high school, Smith met Jeffrey Townes, who went by the name DJ Jazzy Jeff.
They randomly bumped into each other at a house party that they were both playing at and liked each other's beats and lyrics. The two decided to make a rap group together in 1985, which they named DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince; this was the start of Smith's excellent music career.
Will Smith's Music Career
Will Smith and Jeffrey Townes became one of the biggest rapping duos during the 80s and were praised by almost everyone since their music didn't promote violence and gave people a different outlook on how they viewed rap music.
Their most famous album is Rock the House, which was released in 1986 and featured two songs that were so good that they were awarded a Grammy for the album, which was the first Grammy that was awarded to a rap group. Smith and Townes were playing all over the country since every venue was pleased that there was no violence at their concerts.
Another Huge Single for the Group
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were able to win another Grammy with their hit single "Summertime," which was released in 1991 and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1992. This was the second Grammy that the duo would win and the last since the two started heading in different directions.
Smith and Townes have admitted that they have never officially broken up, but instead, they just stopped making music. The two still hang out together to this day and are thankful to have met one another because they changed the rap game during the late 1980s.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith was not financially set, even though he was one of the leading rappers in the industry. The problem was that Smith was buying everything that he thought was cool and wasn't thinking about the future since he thought that the money would just keep flowing in. But unfortunately, Smith hit a wall, was thousands of dollars in debt, and thought his career was over.
Luckily, Smith met Benny Medina, who was the person on which The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's story was based on, and thought that Will would be the perfect fit for the role. Smith went to the audition, which was held by Quincy Jones, one of the producers, and was liked almost instantly.
One of the Top Shows In America
Will Smith really made The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air one of the top shows in America that aired from 1990 to 1996. He even wrote the song "Yo Home To Bel-Air" for the main theme song, which has since become an iconic theme song. DJ Jazzy Jeff even made a couple of appearances on the show as Will's friend, Jazz, and got some credit for being one of the creators of the theme song.
The show was highly successful because all the characters had great chemistry, and it was something different from the other shows that were on television. The show would eventually come to an end, but Smith wanted it to be on his terms so that his tv family could have the proper sendoff and that is what they all got.
Will Smith Wanted Bigger Roles
When Will Smith first started acting, he didn't have the best confidence, but The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air changed that as it showed him that he was a great actor and led him to want more from his acting career. Smith was very thankful about being a part of the show, but he started to ask his agent if he would be able to try and get him some Hollywood roles.
At first, there weren't too many hits, but the first film that he starred in was Where the Day Takes You, which came out in 1992. It wasn't until a couple of years later that Smith was able to get his first significant movie role.
Will Smith's First Major Appearance
Will Smith's first major film role was in the movie Six Degrees of Separation, which came out in 1993 and starred Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. This was the perfect film to show how serious Smith was about acting and was the first film that put him in the spotlight besides being on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The film received a couple of nominations but wasn't able to take any awards home, but overall the movie did well and Smith really enjoyed his role. Not too many people would realize that Smith would become one of the most prominent Hollywood actors during the 90s.
A film that boosted Will Smith to superstar status was the film Bad Boys, which was released in 1995 and was directed by Michael Bay. Smith starred alongside Martin Lawrence who ended up making the perfect duo in the film and was the reason why the film was at the top of the box office charts.
The film is about two Miami cops who are partners that are working on a case to bust a group of criminals who robbed a police station. There is loads of action in this film, which is typical for a Michael Bay film, and the movie was able to generate around $170 million off of an $18 million budget.
Will Smith started getting role after role in the 90s and became one of the highest-grossing actors at the time. Another great film that he starred in is Independence Day, which was released in 1996 and was even bigger than his last film. Everyone in the world now knew of Smith's name and his amazing acting skills.
Smith starred alongside Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman and it became the highest-grossing film of the year reaching around $818 million at the box office. Everyone enjoyed the film because it was the world against an evil race of aliens and Smith was there to save the day.
Men In Black
Will Smith was an extremely busy man during the mid-90s as almost every year he was releasing a blockbuster film. His dreams were finally coming true, and he was cast in several of the top Hollywood films during that time period. In 1997, Smith starred in the film Men In Black and even created the theme song for the film as well.
Smith starred alongside Tommy Lee Jones, who was the polar opposite of Smith's character but was the perfect fit for the duo in the film. This was another film that did exceptionally well at the box office, making around $600 million. It seems that everything that Smith starred in was breaking records at the box office.
Will Smith Found Love
Will Smith met Jada Koren Pinkett when she was auditioning for a small role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and he instantly knew that she was going to be someone special in his life. After dating for a couple of years, the couple decided to get married in 1997 and even had two children several years later.
Smith has admitted that he felt that Jada was his soulmate and knew that he would be with her for the rest of his life. The couple is still married today and is one of the top Hollywood couples out there.
Will Smith's First Solo Album
Since Will Smith was being showered with good fortune, he did something that he always wanted to do and made his own solo album which was titled Big Willie Style. The album was released in 1997 and featured the songs, "Miami" and "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."
Smith was proud of his first album and even had a couple of songs that featured his right-hand man DJ Jazzy Jeff. The album was so popular that it reached the top 10 of the US Billboard 200, and it is one that Smith looks back on as he is proud of the success it had.
Enemy of the State
Will Smith wanted to take a more serious role and decided to work on the film Enemy of the State, which was released in 1998 and was directed by Tony Scott. Gene Hackman stars alongside Smith in this serious drama that ended up doing pretty well at the box office, making around $250 million.
The film is about a group of NSA agents that were filmed killing a US congressman and Smith's character is on the run from them after being given the tape. This was a film that showed a different side of Will Smith's acting skills and showed that he was able to take on a different role than he was used to.
Wild Wild West
Will Smith was at it again in 1998 in the film Wild Wild West, which was supposed to be another great film at the box office but ended up bombing, which Smith ended up regretting. Smith was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix but turned it down because he thought that the Western film would do much better; unfortunately, he was wrong.
Smith even produced the theme song for the film, which wasn't bad, but because of the film's popularity, it didn't do so well. The film ended up becoming more popular when it was released on VHS, but it is still one of Will Smith's biggest regrets.
Will Smith's second solo album was released in 1999 and was titled Willennium, which featured the song "Wild Wild West." Smith collaborated with DJ Jazzy Jeff on a couple of songs since he knew that they had good chemistry together.
Some other popular singles from this album are "Will 2K" and "Freakin' It," which made this album pretty famous and was even able to make it to the number five spot on the US Billboard 200. Smith recorded the album in his hometown of Philidelphia and was still one of the few artists that didn't include profanity in his lyrics.
One of Will Smith's best performances in a film was in Ali, which was released in 2001 and was directed by Michael Mann, who wanted to make a film about the famous heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali. Smith was the perfect choice for the role as he had a lot of respect for the legendary boxer and even met with him before filming so that he could represent him as best as he could.
Will Smith was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Acting, which was well deserved. Overall the film was terrific, and even Ali found it quite moving.
Born To Reign
In 2002, Will Smith released his third solo album that was titled Born To Reign, which didn't live up to the hype as many people thought that the album was not as good as his previous ones. This was another album that featured a song from one of Smith's films which is titled "Black Suits Comin," and was featured in the film Men In Black 2.
The only other song that gained a lot of traction from this album was in Europe and it was "1,000 Kisses"; this was the time that Smith started to realize that his music career wasn't going to last forever as times were changing.
Men In Black 2
Since the creators of Men In Black saw how popular the film was, they decided to make a sequel that would again star Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Men In Black 2 was released in 2002 and was quickly as popular as the first but couldn't bring in the same amount.
The film ended up making around $440 million at the box office and was one of the top movies of the year. The reason why people enjoyed the film was that no main characters were recast and the story was quite entertaining. Smith is known to make several sequels that are successful, and Men In Black 2 is one of them.
Bad Boys 2
Following the trend of making sequels, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence decided to work on the film Bad Boys II, which ended up being even more popular than the first and even made more money at the box office. This was due to the popularity of both the actors and the quality of the first film; Michael Bay even wanted to work with the duo again.
Just like the first film, Bad Boys II is full of action and comedy, which makes this movie very entertaining and like the modern-day Miami Vice. This wouldn't be the last time that the two actors would work together.
In 2004, Will Smith decided to go with a role that he wouldn't typically do and starred in the film I, Robot, which was directed by Alex Proyas. This was one of the first science fiction films that Smith starred in and was the start of many since he enjoyed the genre so much. I, Robot was set in the future and was about a world that was being taken over by intelligent robots.
Fans loved this film as it was something different from what Smith would usually do, and the CGI was pretty advanced for the time. The film did exceptionally well at the box office, making around $350 million.
Will Smith's Children
Will Smith has three children, his son Willard (Trey) was born in 1992 when Smith was married to his first wife, Sheree Zampino, and his two other children, Jaden and Willow, are with his current wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith loves his family very much as they are one of the few Hollywood families that actually get along and are always seen together.
Trey, Jaden, and Willow all have different passions that they are into and only his son, Jaden, follows in his acting footsteps. Will Smith enjoys his family so much that he even made a YouTube channel about their lives.
Will Smith's Love For Chess
Not too many people know that one of Will Smith's biggest passions is playing the game of chess. Ever since he was taught to play chess by his father, Smith fell in love with the game and even taught it to all of his own children.
The reason that Smith enjoys the game of chess so much is that he says that you have to use all parts of your brain, and it helps you become a more intelligent person. Even to this day, Smith enjoys playing chess with anyone that is willing to see if they can beat him.
Will Smith's First Animated Film
Will Smith took a different direction in film and tried something new by voice acting in the animated movie Shark Tale, which did extremely well in the theaters and was the perfect film to introduce Smith to the genre. Shark Tale was full of notable actors and actresses such as Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, and Jack Black.
It was a hit for DreamWorks Animation as it pulled in almost $375 million at the box office. Smith's role was what made the film enjoyable and probably the reason why everyone wanted to see it. This wouldn't be the last time Smith would voice act in an animated movie.
Will Smith's Last Album
Will Smith's last album that he released is titled Lost and Found which came out in 2005. Several people were surprised that the album was pretty good as the last one that he released just didn't sound right, but it seems that Smith was thinking in the right direction when he was producing this album. The album reached number six on the US Billboard 200 and was the third best-selling album that he created.
A couple of popular singles that came out of the album are "Switch" and "Party Starter." This would be the last album that Will Smith would do, but he never truly announced that he was finished; so who knows, maybe one day he will come out with another one.
Will Smith's Other Passions
Besides acting, Will Smith loves to be behind the camera and has produced a couple of movies that he has also starred in, such as Hitch, Pursuit of Happyness, and Hancock. Smith enjoys being in control of the scene and loves how he can change the scene to make it fit better.
In almost every film that Smith has starred in since the early 2000s, he has also been a producer for the film. Smith is full of talents, and being behind the camera is just one of them. There will probably be several more films that he produces in the future, and maybe we will see him in the director's seat one day.
Pursuit of Happyness
Pursuit of Happyness is one of Will's best performances that he has given us on the big screen and proves that this actor is one of the best in the industry. What made this movie special is that it was the first time that Will and Jaden Smith worked on a film together, and what better way than to have them as father and son in the story.
This breathtaking story is based on the book The Pursuit of Happyness, which is based on a true story. Will and Jaden were pretty impressive in the film, and Will was even nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actor.
I Am Legend
I Am Legend was another fantastic film that Will Smith starred in and was the most anticipated movie of 2007. The film was based on the novel I Am Legend which was written by Richard Matheson in 1954, and the reason why so many people knew about the story and wanted to see the film adaption. The film lived up to the novel and was able to bring in around $550 million at the box office.
What made this film great was Smith's performance, as most of the film was about him and his dog surviving a zombie apocalypse. Smith was perfect for the role and is one of the films that is truly loved by his fans.
Before superhero movies were popular, Will Smith was in the film Hancock and starred as the main character in the movie who had superhuman powers. The film was released in 2008 and was based on the comic book series Hancock. Smith fit the role perfectly and looked very similar to the comic book character.
The film ended up being a hit at the box office, making around $650 million, and one of the reasons why Marvel started getting interested in making Hollywood films. Smith starred alongside Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, which added to the already amazing storyline.
Men In Black 3
Will Smith took a little break from acting and spent that time with his friends, which whom he has a strong relationship with, but it wasn't too long before Smith returned to the big screen and started working on Men In Black 3. The film was released in 2012 and ended up being another successful film for the franchise, which was pretty surprising since it had been so many years.
Although the film was successful, Smith admitted that he was done with the series as he thought there wasn't too much to go off of at that point. Another Men In Black film came out years later without Smith, which didn't perform nearly as well.
Will and Jaden Smith starred in another film together as father and son since they saw how well Pursuit of Happyness did, which was titled After Earth. The film was released in 2013 and was directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, who is known for his legendary movies. The film ended up making around $245 million in total but is considered to be a box office flop.
After filming was done and the numbers came in, Jaden admitted that he didn't want to act anymore, and it would probably be the last film that he and his dad would star in together.
Smith And Independence Day: Resurgence
At first, Will was included in the script for the film Independence Day: Resurgence which was the sequel to Independence Day. When Smith heard about this, he was on board and was excited about being in the film and reprising his role but not long after showing interest, the writers changed up the plot to be more about the next generation, which made his character unnecessary
Smith was disappointed when he realized how well the film did in theaters and thought that it would have been even better with him in the starring role.
In 2015, Will Smith and Margot Robbie starred in the film Focus, which was another great film that Smith added to his career and one of the first times Robbie was put in the spotlight. The film is about a con artist who is portrayed by Smith, that starts teaching Robbie's character while falling in love with her at the same time.
The film did pretty well at the box office, making around $150 million on a $50 million budget. This film should have gotten more credit as the two performances were stellar and should have at least been nominated for some awards.
Since Will Smith already had experience with portraying a superhero, DC Universe decided to ask him if he wanted to be a part of the Suicide Squad. Smith gladly accepted and portrayed Deadshot, who was one of the supervillains that were part of the group. This would be the second time that Smith and Margot Robbie starred in a film together.
The film did pretty well in theaters grossing around $800 million, but many fans think that Smith didn't get as much screen time as he should have. Overall, the movie did well, and people enjoyed seeing Will Smith as a superhero again.
All The Awards
Will Smith has an impressive career that he has worked hard for over the years; he is one of the few African Americans to be nominated for an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award, but has yet to capture the title of EGOT holder.
He hasn't just been nominated for these prestigious awards, but he has also won several of them which include an Academy Award, Grammy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and several more, which proves that he is an all-around great talent. Amazingly, Smith has grossed around $9.3 billion in revenue off of his blockbuster films, which is a feat in itself.
In 2017, Will Smith decided to work with Netflix on the film Bright, which is about an alternate world that was habitable by different alien races, and Smith was one of the officers that were partnered with an alien. The film is one of the most-watched on Netflix, but many people agree that it is not the best performance that they have seen from Smith.
Although several people had mixed feelings about the film, the production and acting are on par and probably the reason why Smith agreed to act in the movie. A sequel is said to be in the works, so we will see what the future holds for this possible franchise.
Something that most people didn't see coming was Will Smith playing the Genie in Disney's live-action film, Aladdin. The film was released in 2019, and many people were very excited about this live-action reboot of the animated movie from 1992.
Smith had some big shoes to fill as Robin Williams portrayed the first Genie, but fortunately, Smith lived up to the legendary comedian and was an excellent choice for the role. The film ended up grossing over $1 billion at the box office, which is mind-blowing and another reason why Smith is one of the top paid actors in the industry.
Spies in Disguise
Spies in Disguise was Will Smith's next film that he voice acted in, which was released in 2019 and was another animated film that did pretty well in theaters and was liked by many. Smith was paired with several talented actors and actresses in this animated film such as Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, and Ben Mendelsohn.
The animated film is about a spy that ends up getting turned into a pigeon by a young scientist, and their goal is to take down the evil scientist that is looking to destroy the world. This was another great animated series that Smith was happy to be a part of as he enjoys making these types of films.
Bad Boys For Life
In 2020, Bad Boys For Life was released, which featured the original actors from the previous films, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The film did pretty well in theaters since everyone wanted to have a little taste of nostalgia, and this was the perfect film that blended the old with the new.
Several actors reprised their roles from the previous films, making the movie feel more authentic. This would be the last Bad Boys film as Smith and Lawrence have admitted that three is the perfect number to end the movie series on.
Will Smith's Mother
While Will Smith was growing up, a significant figure in his life was his mother, who helped him with his schooling. Before Smith got into rapping, he was a total bookworm and wanted to be either a mathematician or a scientist. Even when Smith was into rapping, he had some of the best grades in his class and thought about getting a college degree.
But things started coming his way, and he realized that he had a lot of opportunities by not going to college and instead, focusing on his music career. Whatever the decision that Smith made, his mother supported him, and he still thanks her to this day.
Will Smith Performs At The World Cup
Will Smith was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and had the pleasure to perform at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was hosted in Russia. Smith, along with Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi, performed the song "Live It Up". Smith was excited about this as he is a big soccer fan and always wanted to perform in front of sports fans.
Will traveled with his son, Jaden, to Russia to enjoy the festivities and games of the FIFA World Cup. He stated that eing able to perform in one of the biggest sports competitions in the world was one of the highlights of his career.
Will Smith Is A Legend
Not many people know that Will Smith is the only actor to accumulate $100 million per film by starring in eight movies in a row that occurred through the early 2000s. From 2002 to 2008, Smith had a film that was released every year, and most of them did very well in the theaters.
Even when he first started acting, Smith has always put his all into what he does, which is one of the reasons why he is one of the hardest working actors in the industry. He has become one of Hollywood's most bankable stars as his movies have grossed over $9.3 billion worldwide as of 2021.
Will Smith's Father
Another prominent figure in Will Smith's life was his father, who wasn't the best towards him and his family when he was younger but ended up appreciating what his son was able to accomplish later on in life. Smith admitted that his father would sometimes abuse his mother, and he was mad that he didn't do anything about it at the time but ultimately forgave him as he was his father in the end.
Smith was devastated when his father passed away in 2016 from cancer but was glad that he lived a long life and thankful that his dad got to see the amazing man that he became.
The last film that Will Smith starred in was King Richard which was released in 2021 and is about Richard Williams, who is the father of Venus and Serena Williams. Although the film didn't perform too well being that it was released during the pandemic, critics loved the film and agreed that it was one of Smith's best performances.
Smith was so good in the film that he was awarded an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. This is another reason why Smith is labeled one of the best in the industry, so let's hope that he continues making movie gold.
Will Smith's YouTube Channel
Will Smith started his own YouTube channel in 2018 and since then, has gained almost 10 million subscribers and has focused on making some of the most entertaining videos about him and his family adventures. There aren't many actors that are out there making YouTube videos, which really shows how unique Will Smith is.
Everything from golfing, jumping out of planes, or trying new foods, Will Smith's channel is loaded with content that he wants everyone to enjoy. Smith is easily the most famous actor out there, as his YouTube channel reaches millions of people around the world.
Something that everyone didn't expect to happen at the 94th Academy Awards show is Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in the face because he told a joke about his wife, which she didn't like. There was a lot of controversy about the situation, which was initially thought of as a joke, but as the situation escalated, people realized that it was all too real.
It all started because Chris Rock joked about Jada Pinkett's hair, and Smith thought he crossed the line, so he went up and slapped him in the face. Because of this, the Academy Awards decided to ban Smith for ten years as they don't condone violence.
Risked It All For Love
Although Will Smith risked everything for love, he feels that he was wrong about slapping Chris Rock and wishes that he went about it in a different way. The love for the couple is very strong and you can see it the night that Smith slapped Chris Rock. Smith has apologized for the incident and hopes that his career is not ruined because of a little mistake that he made.
His love for Jada is true and Will really does believe that the two are soulmates that will always be together. Only time will tell if these two will be together forever and let's hope that they do.
Will Smith's Tremendous Career
Will Smith has had a tremendous career, from being just your local rapper that played at house parties to being one of the most prominent actors in Hollywood. Smith has gone through many ups and downs, which makes him relatable. Smith was broke at one point in his life, and it was the biggest lesson that life gave him and the reason why he cherishes every moment with his family.
Smith has many years ahead of him as he is one of the best actors in the industry, so let's see what this man has in store for us in the future.
I hope you have enjoyed these amazing facts about the life of Will Smith and maybe learned something you didn't know along the way.