|Birth Name: Willard Christopher Smith Jr.
Birthdate: September 25, 1968
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupations: Actor, Musician
Quote: "It's a whole different thing being an actor. A rapper is about
being completely true to yourself. Being an actor is about changing who
you are. You make yourself a different person. You become a different
person." --Newsday, April 2, 1995
Claim to Fame: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air television series
Wife: Jada Pinkett Smith, actress; met 1990; married New Year's Eve 1997
Tanya Moore; met 1988; no longer together
Wife: Sheree Zampino; married May 9, 1992; separated 1995; divorced
Father: William C. Smith Sr., refrigeration engineer
Mother: Caroline Smith, school- board employee
Sister: Pam Smith; born 1964
Sister: Ellen Smith; twin of Harry; born 1971
Brother: Harry Smith; born 1971
Son: Willard C. Smith III (aka Trey Smith); born December 1992; mother, Sheree
Son: Jaden Christopher Syre Smith; born July 8, 1998; mother, Jada Pinkett
Daughter: Willow Camille Reign Smith; born October 31, 2000; mother, Jada
A charismatic African-American rap star and actor of film and TV and half of the
Grammy-winning duo D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Smith made his acting
debut in his own NBC sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". As a nice, streetwise
kid from the Philadelphia 'hood adjusting to culture shock in moneyed Bel Air,
Smith offered a squeaky clean image of hip-hop culture which proved
nonthreatening to primetime values. He parlayed the hit series into a feature
acting career, debuting in a drama about teenage runaways entitled "Where the
Day Takes You" (1992) and following up with a supporting role in "Made in
America" (1993) with Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson.
His first lead in features was a dramatic stretch for the young performer. In
the film version of John Guare's "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993), Smith
played a young gay hustler and con man who ingratiates himself with an affluent
white couple by posing as the son of Sidney Poitier and a friend of their
children who are away at college. The demanding role required him to work with
an acting coach and a dialect coach three times a week for three months prior to
rehearsals. The part also called for a homosexual kiss that, even after being
paid, he refused to film. Despite some critical carping, Smith garnered largely
impressive notices for his portrayal amidst a cast of seasoned acting pros.
After this acclaim, Smith joined fellow sitcom star Martin Lawrence in the
smash "Bad Boys" (1995), turning their lot over to the hands of veteran
action-comedy producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. In the film, Smith
was Mike Lowery, a wild bachelor cop, and Lawrence was his partner, a family man
with the duo having to switch places to nab a heroin ring. He proved modestly
revelatory as a military pilot trying to save the USA from an alien invasion in
the sci-fi blockbuster "Independence Day" (1996) and followed with the equally
successful "Men in Black" (1997), teamed with Tommy Lee Jones and again hunting
alien lifeforms. The thriller "Enemy of the State" (1998) allowed him to display
both his charms and his action ability, both of which were also on display in
"Wild Wild West" (1999).
1988: Grammy: Best Rap Performance, "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper"; award shared
with DJ Jazzy Jeff
1988: American Music: Best Rap Single, "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper"
1991: Grammy: Best Rap Performance, "Summertime"
1991: American Music: Best Rap Single, "Summertime"; award shared with DJ Jazzy
1991: NAACP Image: Outstanding Rap Artist, "Summertime"; award shared with DJ
1996: MTV Movie Award: Best Kiss, Independence Day; award shared with Vivica Fox
1997: National Association of Theater Owners: NATO/ShoWest International Box
Office Achievement Award
1997: MTV Video Music: Best Video from a Film, "Men in Black"
1997: NAACP Image: Outstanding Rap Artist, "Men in Black"
1998: Grammy: Best Rap Solo Performance, "Men in Black"
1998: MTV Movie: Best Song from a Movie, "Men in Black"
1998: MTV Movie: Best Fight, "Men in Black"
1998: MTV Video Music: Best Male Video, "Just the Two of Us"
1998: MTV Video Music: Best Rap Video, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It"
1999: MTV Video Music: Best Male Video, "Miami"
"Where the Day Takes You" (1992)
"Made in America" (1993)
"Six Degrees of Separation" (1993)
"Bad Boys" (1995)
"Independence Day" (1996)
"Men in Black" (1997)
"Enemy of the State" (1998)
"Wild Wild West" (1999)
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" (2000)
"Ali" (2001) (Oscar nomination, best actor)
Nicknamed "The Prince" by a high-school teacher because of his regal attitude;
"fresh" was adopted later from the street word meaning "cool"
Overbrook High School, Winfield, Pennsylvania
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