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Will Smith: Snapshot

Name
Will Smith
Date of Birth
September 25, 1968
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pa.
With his versatility, easy wit, and family-friendly charm, rapper-turned-actor Will Smith has become one of Hollywood's most bankable multitaskers.

As half of the rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Smith found success with such mom-friendly hits as "Parents Just Don't Understand" that appealed to teenagers without using violent, vulgar lyrics. He branched out to TV with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a successful sitcom that aired for several seasons and is still widely syndicated.

Smith, who has two children with wife Jada Pinkett Smith and a son from a previous marriage, soon began starring in big-screen blockbusters such as Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black and soon found success in more serious fare. His portrayal of the ex-heavyweight champ in Ali, earned Smith his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor, with his second Best Actor nomination coming in 2007 for The Pursuit of Happyness.

Will Smith: Five Fun Facts

  1. When asked by Tyra Banks who should play him in a movie, Sen. Barack Obama said, "I think initially Denzel [Washington] would be the choice but somebody pointed out, with my ears, it might have to be Will Smith."
  2. A millionaire by age 20, Will Smith admitted to spending lavishly early in his career. He and his buddies once got Gucci to close the store so they could enjoy a private shopping spree. "Being able to buy anything you want makes you a little crazy," he told PEOPLE.
  3. Will Smith was worried about making the leap from rapper to actor. When called in to audition for The Cosby Show and A Different World, Smith was a no-show. "I realized later how scared I was to take that step," he told PEOPLE.
  4. Will Smith paid for each of his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costars to upgrade their onset dressing rooms in 1995.
  5. For one of Jada Pinkett Smith's birthdays, Will Smith created a DVD message telling his wife there were clothes upstairs and a car would pick her up. She was flown to San Francisco, where Will was waiting for her at a restaurant she'd been reading about. "That's how Big Will does it!" he told PEOPLE.

Will Smith: Biography

1987

Will Smith

June

Most Likely to Succeed

Three weeks before he's scheduled to graduate from Philadelphia's Overbrook High, Smith and childhood pal "Jazzy Jeff" Townes release their debut hip-hop album Rock The House. With a burgeoning music career, Smith, known by his stage name, "The Fresh Prince," defers a scholarship to MIT to pursue his passion. It pays off. The clean-cut duo's second album, He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper, makes it to No. 4 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and earns them
a Best Rap Performance Grammy for the jokey single
"Parents Just Don't Understand."

1990

Will Smith

September 10

Yo Holmes, to Bel-Air

Smith is cast as "Will Smith" in the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, about a street-smart Philly kid who moves in with wealthy relatives in L.A. "Will has this very infectious personality, with a great spirit," NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff tells PEOPLE. "Whatever he has, you can't teach. I think the Eddie Murphy comparison is there." The show lasts until 1996 and continues to live on in syndication.

1992

Will Smith

November

Daddy Loves You

Six months after marrying fashion design student Sheree Zampino (they met in 1991), the couple has their first child. Named Willard C. Smith III, their son goes by the nickname "Trey." Smith and Zampino, however, separate in 1995. Smith dedicates his 1998 single "Just the Two of Us," to Trey – who stars alongside his dad in the video – telling him, "It didn't work out with me and your mom/But yo, push come to shove/You was conceived in love."

Read More on Will Smith's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Andrew Eccles/JBGPhoto

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): TODD KAPLAN/STARFILE; FOTO FANTASIES; ALBERT ORTEGA/CELEBRITY PHOTO

Edited by Julia Wang

Will Smith

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