Willard Christopher “Will” Smith, Jr. was born on September 25, 1968 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Willard Christopher Smith, Sr., was a refrigerator salesman. His mother, Caroline Smith, was a school administrator who worked for the Philadelphia school board. Smith’s parents separated when he was thirteen years old.
It has been stated that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). However, he never applied. Smith was a good student with high SAT scores, and was admitted to a “pre-engineering program” at MIT. Smith has reported that he never had intentions of attending college.
Smith’s celebrity life began in the 1980’s as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. The group gained critical acclaim for winning the first ever Grammy in the Rap category in 1988. Smith’s acting career began in 1990 when NBC signed him to a contract and built a sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, around him. The show was successful and ran for nearly six years (1990–1996) on NBC and has been syndicated since.
Smith’s big jump from television to film came with his role in the 1996 film Independence Day. The movie was a huge blockbuster. Independence Day was the second highest grossing film in history at the time and established Smith’s reputation as a box office draw. Smith’s movie career has soared through the years. His most financially successful films have been Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Independence Day, Men in Black, Men in Black II, I, Robot, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Hancock, Wild Wild West, Enemy of the State, Shark Tale, Hitch and Seven Pounds.
Smith is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office as well as being the only actor to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the #1 spot in the domestic box office tally.
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