Willard Carroll Smith Jr.
Smith was born on September 25, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He has three siblings, sister Pamela
, who is four years older,
and twins Harry and Ellen
, who are three years younger.
His father, Willard Carroll Smith, Sr.
, was a refrigeration engineer while
his mother, Caroline (Bright)
, was a Philadelphia school board administrator.
In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince
. He formed an alliance with schoolmate and deejay Jeffrey Townes, whom he met in 1981.
They began recording as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. In 1988 the group released the groundbreaking single “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” which went on to win a Grammy Awards.
In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
During the series’ run, Smith garnered two Golden Globe Award nominations and served as an executive producer for the final season.
Smith expanded into cinema with Where the Day Takes You. His first leading role
was in the film version of John Guare’s successful stage play
Six Degrees of Separation.
The action comedy-thriller
however, proved to be the turning point in his film career
. While the movie was not a critical success, it made more than $100 million worldwide.
In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich’s
. The film was a massive blockbuster, becoming the second highest-grossing film
He later struck gold again in the summer of 1997 alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the summer hit
Men in Black
playing Agent J.
During the summer of 1997, Smith also began his solo career with the release of “Men in Black”, the theme song for the film of the same name.
Smith portrayed heavyweight boxer
in the biopic
. For his performance he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor
In 2002, following a four-year musical hiatus,
Smith returned with his third album Born to Reign
. The album was released on Columbia Records in the United States
Smith gained a place in the Guinness World Records book for most public appearances in 12 hours
, by attending three red carpet “premieres” for
(2005) on 22nd February 2005.