Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, film producer and pop rapper. He has enjoyed success in music, television and film. In April 2007,Newsweek called him the most powerful actor on the planet. Smith has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won multiple Grammy Awards.
In the late 1980s, Smithachieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for nearly six years (1990–1996) on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. In the mid-1990s, Smith transitioned from television to film, and ultimately starred innumerous blockbuster films that received broad box office success. In fact, he is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office as well as being the only actor to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the #1 spot in the domestic box office tally.
Fourteen of the 19 fiction films he has acted in have accumulatedworldwide gross earnings of over $100 million, and 4 of them took in over $500 million in global box office receipts. His most financially successful films have been Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Independence Day, Men in Black,Men in Black II, I, Robot, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Hancock, Wild Wild West,Enemy of the State, Shark Tale, Hitch and Seven Pounds. He also earned critical praise forhis performances in Six Degrees of Separation, Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, receiving Best Actor Oscar nominations for the latter two.
Family and early life
West Philadelphia born and raised, Smith also spent time in Germantown in Northwest Philadelphia. His mother, Caroline (née Bright), was a school administrator who worked for the Philadelphia school board, and his father, WillardChristopher Smith, Sr., was a refrigeration engineer. He was raised Baptist. His parents separated when he was 13, and did not actually divorce until Smith was around 30.
While it is widely reported that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he never applied to MIT, although he was admitted to a "pre-engineering program" there. According to Smith,"My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college.
Recording and acting career
Early work (1985–1995)Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, with hischildhood friend Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes as turntablist and producer as well as Ready Rock C (Clarence Holmes) as the human beat box. The trio was known for performing humorous, radio-friendly songs, most notably "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Summertime". They gained critical acclaim for winning the first ever Grammy in the Rap category (1988). He had a line in "Voices That Care", a1991 Gulf War song by a celebrity group. Smith spent money freely during his early career and underpaid his income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service eventually assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against Smith, took many of his possessions, and garnished his income. Smith was nearly bankrupt in 1990 when the NBC television network signed him to a contract and built a sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,around him. The show was successful and began his acting career. Smith set for himself the goal of becoming "the biggest movie star in the world," studying box office successes'common characteristics.
Breakthrough (1996–2000)In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day. The film was a massive blockbuster, becoming the second highest grossing film in...
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