Will Smith was born as Willard Christopher Smith, Jr. on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia. After graduating Overbrook High School, Smith began to pursue a career as an MC, which he turned down an acceptance to M.I.T. in order to do. His early MC career began with the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, a combination of Smith and a friend. The pair gained early acclaim for such tunes as “Summertime” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
Unfortunately, finances were not going so well and by 1990 Smith was actually on the verge of bankruptcy. His finances were saved when NBC signed him and the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was drafted. The show went on to become a huge success and became the launch Smith needed for an acting career.
Smith film debut came with Where the Day Takes You in 1992, for which he earned a mere $50,000. The following year he landed a role in Six Degrees of Separation while The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was still on the air, earning critical acclaim and increasing his salary per film by ten times his first film salary. In 1995 he starred in Bad Boys. When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended the following year, Smith launched a solo music career while simultaneously continuing with a film career; including such films as Independence Day and Men in Black. Both films were hugely successful, allowing Smith to become one of the most popular actors in Hollywood.
Later he starred in Enemy of the State, Ali, Wild Wild West, Men in Black II, Bad Boys II and I, Robot. He earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Ali. Throughout the last few years, Smith has also released several successful singles, including the theme song Men in Black, and Getting’ Jiggy Wit It. In 2005, Smith appeared at Super Bowl XXXIX as well as the Live 8 Concert.
For a brief period of time, Smith was married to Sharee Zampino, mother of his son; Willard Christopher III (Trey.) The couple divorced in 1995 and Smith married Jada Pinkett two years later. Two children have been born to this marriage, Jaden Christopher Syre, and Willow Camille Reign.
Smith’s music career has been dominated by his reputation for profanity-free lyrics, for which he has drawn criticism at times from other musicians. Smith has said that he had a Christian upbringing and continues to spend once a week each year with his mother.