Very cool and talented Willard Christopher Smith II (1968-) was born on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An animated, glib child, his teachers gave him the nickname "Prince."
"People laugh, but if I set my mind to it...I would be president," he once said.
The ambitious entertainer was a rapper by age 12. He recorded two platinum albums with “Jazzy” Jeff Townes before starring--amid initial skepticism--in the hit TV comedy Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996).
“I can’t run away when I’m scared,” he said in a Parade interview (7/11/04). “I always have to attack. That’s how I deal with seemingly difficult things.”
Smith followed up his big screen debut in Six Degrees of Separation (1993) with a string of high-action blockbusters such as Men in Black (w/Tommy Lee Jones,1997), Enemy of the State (1998), and I, Robot(2004).
"I love how people ask, 'How does it feel to be on the A list?' In my mind, I've always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y'all just didn't know yet," said the confident star who continues to win music and movie awards.
Married to actress Jada Pinkett, Smith said his son Trey inspired the rap hit Just the Two of Us. "I feel blessed at this point in my career to still be getting better," the engaging actor said.
In 2004, Smith was named AIDS global ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, with the goal of playing a more critical role in raising awareness, gathering funds, and reaching young people in South Africa. Smith said of Mandela, "He told me never to underestimate the power of what I do - to make people laugh, cry, and think."
Character amplifies with fortune.