Actor Will Smith was born on September 25, 1968, in Newark, New Jersey. He began acting professionally at age five and became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars during the 1990s. His breakout role came in 1989’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, where he played a young boy who moves into a wealthy family’s home. In 1991, Smith won his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Ali. He went on to win three more Oscars over the next decade for classics such as Independence Day, Men in Black II, Seven Pounds, I Am Legend, Hancock, Wild Wild West, Collateral, After Earth, Concussion, Suicide Squad, Focus, and Bright. In 2017, Smith announced that he had signed a multiyear deal with Warner Bros., making him the studio’s highest paid actor.
Smith has been married twice. His first marriage occurred in 1992 and lasted just under four years. His second wife, model Kelsey McNealy Smith, died of cancer in 2010. Smith has six children, including son Trey Songz Jr. Smith has been open about being gay since 2013.
Smith was born Willard Carroll Smith Jr. on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Caroline (né Bright) and Willard Carroll Smith, Sr. His father worked as a postal worker and his mother was a school board administrator. He grew up in West Philly’s Wynnefield neighborhood and attended Frankford High School. At age 12, he began rapping under the name “Willy Wonka”.
When his grandmother found a notebook filled with his lyrics, which he called “a bunch of my little curse words,” she wrote him a note that read, “Dear Willy, truly intelligent people don’t have to use words like these to express themselves.” This prompted Smith to decide against cursing in his songs.
In high school, Smith met DJ Jazzy Jeff while performing at a talent show. In 1990, he formed the hip hop group De La Soul along with Posdnuos and Maseo. They released their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising in 1989. Their second album, Stakes Is High, followed in 1991. De La Soul went on hiatus in 1993 following the release of their third studio album, Buhloone Mindstate.
Smith briefly joined the rap group 2 Live Crew in 1994 and recorded several tracks on their fourth album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. He later collaborated with fellow rapper Ice Cube on the song “Check Yo Self”, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. Smith and Posdnuos reunited De La Soul in 1998 and released the albums A Brother Named Charlie Brown in 1999 and The Grind Date in 2000.
After releasing three solo albums—The Woodlands in 2001, Ghettomusic in 2003, and Welcome to Our World… in 2006—De La Soul returned in 2009 with the album Loveology. After touring extensively throughout North America and Europe, the band disbanded again in 2010.
In 2013, Smith announced plans to launch his own label, Blacksmith Records. On July 4, 2017, it was reported that Smith had been hospitalized due to complications related to diabetes.
On December 8, 2018, Smith revealed that he suffered a stroke earlier in the week.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Fresh Prince of Bel air is an American sitcom starring Will Smith, based on his real life experiences growing up in West Philadelphia. The show aired on NBC from September 24, 1990 to May 16, 1996, lasting eight seasons and becoming one of the network’s most successful programs during the early 1990s.
The series follows the adventures of wealthy teenager William “Will” Terrence “Tremé” Jefferson III (Smith), whose father owns a mansion in Beverly Hills, California, where he lives with his mother, Alice (Mia Sara), sister, Kimberly (Nia Long), and stepfather, Carlton Banks (John Witherspoon). His best friends are Alfonso Ribeiro as his high school classmate and later neighbor, Andre Allen, and Lester Burnham as his elementary school teacher. He attends fictionalized version of Benjamin Franklin High School, where he develops many friendships with students such as Harvey Korman as Mr. Feeny, Lenny Venito as Jimmy Valmero, and Tariq Trotter as Omar Little. In addition to his family, his neighbors include Nola Darling and her daughter, Kimiko; Phil Foster and his wife, Rose; and Mrs. Garrett and her dog, Duke.