Very few performers have had as much success transitioning from the music scene to the film realm as Will Smith has. Being in the entertainment scene since the late 80s, today, Smith is one of the most recognized and esteemed performers and producers in the industry.
Will Smith was born Willard Christopher Smith Jr on September 25th, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Overbrook High School in Winfield Pennsylvania, which is where he soon became known to his friends as "The Prince," for his charming antics. Little did he know that this nickname would still have meaning over 30 years later.
At the early age of 12, Smith began rapping and developing his own style under the influence of hip-hop legend, Grandmaster Flash. Four years later, at only 16, he met Jeff Townes, also known as DJ Jazzy Jeff, who he eventually collaborated with under the title, Fresh Prince. The two produced a number of songs including the worldwide hit, Girls Ain't Nothin But Trouble, and in 1989, the duo won their first Grammy for Best Rap Performance for Parents Just Don't Understand. Shortly thereafter, they won another Grammy in 1991 for Summertime. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince continued to make music together until their final album, Code Red, which was released in 1993. Even though this was the end for the rap duo, Smith re-emerged as a solo artist in 1997 with his debut LP, Big Willie Style and continues to make and produce music today.
Prior to his debut as a solo artist, Will Smith had already made a name for himself in the acting realm. In 1990, Will Smith was cast in the NBC sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which starred Smith as the "Fresh Prince," a young street-smart kid from Philly living in one of LA's wealthiest areas, Bel-Air. The family comedy proved to be a great success running for six years and giving Smith a name in the industry.
It wasn't long before the movie offers came rolling in. One of his first roles was in the film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson, Made In America, in which Smith played the best friend of Goldberg's onscreen daughter. His next role in the Oscar-nominated film, Six Degrees of Separation, garnered him international respect after proving to the world that he could play more than the comical Fresh Prince. This eventually led to the 1995 box-office hit, Bad Boys, which was one of the first-ever action films to feature two black lead actors.
After Bad Boys, things only got better for Will Smith. He starred in over a dozen films including Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), Enemy of the State (1998), Ali (2001), I, Robot (2004), Hitch (2005) and the Pursuit of Happyness (2006) to name a few. Over the span of his acting career, he's won 28 awards and has been nominated for 49 others including two Oscar nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his role in Ali and in The Pursuit of Happyness.
After successfully conquering the music and film industries, Will Smith has taken on the new role as producer. With the help of partner James Lassiter, Smith recently launched Overbrook Entertainment, a film and television production company that also does artist management. Since its birth, Overbrook has produced several box office hits including I, Robot, Hitch, The Pursuit of Happyness, and the most recent I Am Legend.