304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
A cornerstone for representation in Hollywood, Will Smith has solidified his name as one of the leading men in cinema and television all over the world. With an impressive career trajectory, he has managed to ace role after role with ease, while garnering a huge fan following over the last few decades. Will Smith has been around for a long time, and while 2022 was an interesting year for him, 2023 is about to be even better.
We’ve tried our best to talk about everything you need to know about Will Smith, from his net worth to his biography, to his dating history and much more. So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about your favorite Hollywood actor!
Smith was responsible for paying over $6 million in debt after neglecting to pay almost $3 million in taxes at the beginning of his career. When the opportunity for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came along, the IRS garnished 70% of his earnings until his debts were paid off. Throughout his almost 40 years in the entertainment industry, Smith has managed to recover from his earlier losses. In the 2000s, at the peak of his career, it is believed that Smith took home between $20 and $30 million per movie. As of December 2022, Will Smith’s is estimated to be $350 million.
Willard Carroll Smith was born in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 25, 1968. He attended a private Catholic elementary school, Our Lady of Lourdes, and later, Overbrook High School. He began rapping around age 12. He became one half of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince with Jeffrey Townes, his childhood friend who became better known as DJ Jazzy Jeff. They soon became a trio after adding Clarence Holmes, also known as Ready Rock C, as the beatboxer of the group.
They released their first single, “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble,” with Word Records, a label based in Philadelphia. About a month before Smith graduated from high school, the song became a hit, and Smith and Townes were introduced to Russell Simmons at Jive Records. Jive re-released its first album, Rock the House, in March 1987. Smith and Townes received the very first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and earned their second Grammy for the 1991 hit, “Summertime”. The two remain friends to this day and have even recorded music together for Smith’s solo career.
From 1988 through 1989, Smith underpaid his income taxes, and the United States Internal Revenue Service assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against him. Many of his belongings were repossessed, and his wages were garnished in order to ensure the debt was paid. NBC developed a sitcom loosely based on Smith’s life in 1990, titling it The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith’s acting career took off quickly, with his first major film role coming along in 1993 in Six Degrees of Separation. He then starred opposite Martin Larence in the action film Bad Boys in 1995, which grossed $141.4 million globally. He starred in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day in 1996, and the film became the second highest-grossing film in history at the time.
Next, Smith starred in Men in Black with Tommy Lee Jones. Smith is well-known for his role as Agent J, having reprised the role several times in other installments of the franchise. In the same year, 1997, Smith began his solo music career with the theme song for the film, “Men in Black”. The song was featured on his debut solo album Big Willie Style, which was certified by the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, as nine times platinum.
In 1999, Smith starred in Wild Wild West after he turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix, a role which ultimately went to Keanu Reeves and became one of Reeves’ most recognizable roles. Willennium, Smith’s sophomore album, included a promotional single for the aforementioned film, also called “Wild Wild West,” featuring Kool Moe Dee and Dru Hill. The single reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually was certified gold by the RIAA. The second single from the album, “Will 2K,” made it to the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number 25. 1999 continued to be a successful year for Smith as he released a video album featuring all seven of his music videos to date and was featured on the single “Boy You Knock Me Out,” by Tatyana Ali, his co-star on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Smith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his performance in Ali, the 2001 biopic based on the life of heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali. 2002 marked Smith’s return to music after a hiatus of four years. His third album, Born to Reign, included the lead single “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head),” which also served as the theme song for Men in Black II. In 2003, he reprised his role as Detective Mike Lowrey in Bad Boys II alongside Martin Lawrence as Detective Marcus Burnett. The film received largely negative reviews, but it was a success at the box office, grossing $270 million globally.
He starred in two more box office hits in 2004 – the science fiction film I, Robot, and the animated film Shark Tale. He released another album, Lost and Found, in 2005. “Switch,” the lead single, reached the top ten of both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart, and the album peaked at number six on the Billboard 200. After seeing San Francisco salesman Chris Gardner on 20/20, Smith decided he wanted to make a film about the man. Smith starred in and produced The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006 alongside his son, Jaden. The film is an adaptation of Gardner’s memoir of the same name. The film won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture, and Smith was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Jaden won several awards for his performance, as well, including the Teen Choice Award for Breakout Male, the Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Young Actor, and the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance.
Smith worked fairly regularly through the remainder of the 2000s and the 2010s. In 2008, he starred in the superhero film Hancock, which was a major success, grossing over $624 million worldwide. He began working on a fifth studio album in 2011 with producer La Mar Edwards, but it has yet to be released. Men in Black 3 was released in May 2012, marking his third and (as of now) final appearance as Agent J in the franchise.
He took a year and a half break from acting after the failure of his film After Earth in 2013. The film performed poorly at the box office and was torn apart by critics. In 2015, Smith starred in Focus opposite Margot Robbie, who also would be his co-star in 2016’s Suicide Squad. He starred as Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion, based on the real-life story of Omalu, a doctor of the Brain Injury Research Institute who was the first to discover chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated trauma to the head. Smith was nominated for several awards for the role, winning the Best Actor Award from the African-American Film Critics Association and the Creative Impact in Acting Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Smith, unfortunately, faced several more disappointments in the late 2010s, including his films Collateral Beauty and Bright, which was called a “truly terrible, mountainous pile of genre-blending garbage” by Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times.
Smith forayed back into music in 2018, performing the 2018 World Cup’s official song, “Live It Up,” with American Reggaetón singer Nicky Jam and Kosovo-Albanian singer Era Istrefi at the closing ceremony in Moscow, Russia. Later that year, he featured on Marc Anthony’s song “Está Rico” with Puerto Rican rapper and singer Bad Bunny. Smith combined his music and film careers when he portrayed the Genie in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Aladdin in 2019. As comedian Robin Williams did for the 1992 animated film, Smith recorded multiple songs for the film’s soundtrack, including “Prince Ali,” “Arabian Nights,” and “Friend Like Me”. The movie became Smith’s highest-grossing film, raking in over $1 billion globally.
In 2019, Smith starred as spy Lance Sterling in the animated film, Spies in Disguise, opposite Tom Holland, who voiced the nerdy inventor who creates Sterling’s gadgets. In 2020, he appeared in the third film of the Bad Boys franchise, Bad Boys for Life. Smith’s memoir, Will, was written with Mark Manson and published in November 2021. He portrayed Richard Williams, father and coach of legendary tennis professionals Venus and Serena Williams, in the 2021 film King Richard. For his performance, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
Most recently, Smith starred as Peter in Emancipation, a historical action film by Apple TV+. Peter is a runaway slave who navigates the dangerous swamps of Louisiana to escape to the Union Army. Smith will star in a series for National Geographic and Disney+ called Pole to Pole, throughout the course of which he will travel from the South Pole to the North Pole, visiting a host of different communities and environments along the way.
Smith married his first wife, actress Sheree Zampino, in 1992. They maintain a close relationship despite their divorce in 1995. Zampino even gets along with Will’s second and current wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Will and Jada met when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. They married on December 31, 1997, so they’ve just celebrated 25 years together! Their relationship has been a topic of interest for many, as they have admitted to having extramarital relationships and have a somewhat “open” marriage.
The more you know about Will Smith, the more you’re left in awe wondering about just how talented he is. We’re hoping to see more of him in 2023, but until then, do let us know in the comments what your favorite Will Smith role has been so far!