Will Smith: America’s Finest Actor, Producer & Rap Artist… Life & Lessons

Will Smith

Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity,       –   Will Smith

Will Smith is a name that millions of people, including myself, don’t just associate with talent but with success in its purest of forms.

Out of the nineteen fiction films Smith has starred in, over $6.63 billion pounds have been grossed in global box office. He had won four Grammy Awards for his performances, produced five studio albums and starred in one of the most popular comedy series’ of modern day The Fresh Prince of Be lair.

But what perhaps makes Will Smith so unique to other actors, producers and rap artists is the fact that he has retained his cool, charismatic nature throughout the whole of his career – even incorporating his family life in with his business life as you’ll see later on in the post.

I was drawn to writing about Will Smith for many reasons. His philosophy. His talents. His quotes. But what’s most important for you to consider here, whilst reading, is whether success is ever truly pure if we change who we are to get there. If you answer is yes, hopefully this post will change your mind…

Music, Movies and Madness: Will Smith and his One Life Success…

Will Smith and Parents as a BabyWill Smith was born to parents Willard and Caroline on the 25th of September 1968. His father, Willard, was a refrigerator engineer. His mother Caroline a school board administrator. Together they raised Will Junior in Germantown, Northwest Philadelphia; a middle class town where he grew up as the second son of four children. As a young boy, Will was nicknamed “Prince” for the ability in which he could charm his way out of trouble.

When Will Smith was thirteen his parents separated. They did not fully divorce until much later years, but the separation had a great effect on Will. Having no intention to go to college, Will started his career by joining his childhood friend Jeffrey Townes in a hip-hop duo. The pair met at a house party and their songs – including Parents Just Don’t Understand and Summertime – were most well credited for their humour. In 1988 the pair were awarded with a Grammy.

The award was the first successful stepping stone in the young man’s life, but it was after this success that Smith’s financial troubles began. Any money Smith made from his music career, he spent on cars, jewellery and other expenses. As a result the Internal Revenue were forced to step in and confiscated many of Smith’s possessions and a large proportion of his income and Will Smith was left just inches away from bankruptcy.

Luckily for Smith it was around this time that NVC television network spotted potential in the budding actor and rapper asked him to sign a contract to star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air a comedy sketch show that proved to be extremely and increasingly popular with audiences around the world. The series lasted six years in total, and it was during this time that Will Smith gained the courage to step into the cinema screen.

Six Degrees of SeparationWill Smith’s first major movie role was in the action picture Six Degrees of Separation in 1993 where Will plays a skilful con-artist. Shortly after this major movie role, Will starred in Micheal Bay’s Bad Boys in 1995 and Independence Day in 1996 alongside Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman. As it happened, Independence Day was Smith’s big break and became the second highest grossing film in history at the time.

Lightning never strikes twice, you say? Think again. The following year Smith got lucky again starring alongside Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black and Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State. Both of these appearances, only assured critics and audiences alike that this budding young actor was the one to watch.

Although recognising that that turning down The Matrix for The Wild Wild West was a mistake Smith insists that he has no regrets in rejecting The Matrix stating that he could have done no better than Keanu Reeves did. It was around this time that Will Smith also met future wife Sheree Zampino – a fashion designer.

The couple married in 1992 and had a son, Trey, on November the 11th 1992. Trey appeared in Will’s music video Just the Two of Us in 1998, three years after an unfortunate divorce with Sheree. Will remarried in 1997 to fellow actress Jada Pinkett. The couple have two children, Jaden and Willow, and continue to live happy in Los Angeles to this present date.

Will Smith, Jade Pinkett Smith and FamilySince Will’s big break into the movie world, Will made multiple more movies including I am Legend, Hitch, Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness and After Earth to name a few. I am Legend was one of Will’s most rare movie moments, of which he spent some time acting alongside his daughter Willow. He has also acted alongside his son Jaden in the movies After Earth and The Pursuit of Happyness. None of Will’s films, or five studio albums have failed to captivate audiences.

But despite Smith’s financial and philosophical successes, Smith continues to involve himself in wider, political and charity issues today. Not only did he host the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2009 but he has also donated grand sums of money towards Obama’s political campaign, church and science charities and a private elementary school in California which he co-founded with his wife Jada in recent years.

It’s these last successes that I think are the most significant when making true decisions about the life and times of Will Smith because they give us strong indications of two things:

1) Face-value Success – Will Smith’s talents have given him the opportunities and the rewards to make significant changes like these.

2) Philosophical Success – Will Smith still retains the same interests, values and ideas that he did when he started out as a young and talented man looking to change the world around him for good.

And that’s the reason why I chose to write about Will Smith today.

Life & Lessons: What You can Learn from the Life and Times of Will Smith…

Will Smith’s quotes have always been amongst my favourites because they motivate the listener in a way that we attempt to motivate you through One Life Success; from the heart.

Organisation, having a plan and knowing where you’re going are all important things for the self-developer. But life experience, talent and attitude are your greatest teachers and that’s a view, I think, Will Smith and I share.

Don’t Let Money Control Your Life…

We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care,       -  Will Smith

Will SmithAt the start of Will Smith’s career he blew all of his money on material possessions… and was succumbed into a hell of a lot of trouble because of it. This might have, if he wasn’t so talented, prevented him from getting further in his career. Luckily for Will there was a silver lining.

Will Smith has definitely learnt his lesson. Not only has he realised that money is worthless in the face of success, he has used his wealth – this time – for the good of others and received respect rather than trouble because of it.

Remember this: money is a motivation for you to achieve your success. Money makes life easier. Money gives you more time to do the things that make you happy. But it’s not everything. And it won’t make you happy on its own. Will Smith learnt this the hard way. But he learnt it in the end. And by learning from what I’ve written here, you can avoid a similar defect.

School Is Important But It’s Not Who You Are…

“The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school,”       -   Will Smith

I could rant forever about the importance of life experience and person skill over qualifications – and I do in why having bad grades is a good thing – but that’s because I can’t stress enough how important this value is to a potential world changer.

Wasting time on getting the same knowledge, the same skills, the same qualifications as the rest of the students in your class will get you where you need to be. But they won’t get you any further than that because to be somebody big, you have to somebody when you’re small. And that means having something to say, having a positive attitude, a unique set of talents and memories and a dream.

Nobody taught Will Smith to act. Nobody taught him how to take the leap. Or how to accept and learn from his mistakes He taught himself through the failures and life experiences that he had.

From his bankruptcy he learned that money isn’t everything. From his rejection of the Matrix he learned the importance of judgement and juggling. From his divorce he learnt how to juggle work and life in order to become a well-rounded and successful individual.

And this is the world that no amount of school will ever prepare you for in isolation. Grades are important. Knowledge is important. But grades and knowledge are two very different concepts. Will Smith is successful because he learnt the difference.

Wrote by Aimee Hall  -  Part of the Inspirational People Series