Real name: Willard Christopher Smith Jr.
Birthdate: September 25, 1968
Partner: Jada Pinkett
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Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is a Golden Globe and a two time Academy Award-nominated American actor, and a multiple Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist. He is one of a small group of people who have enjoyed success in three major entertainment media in the United States: feature films, television, and the music industry. Newsweek has named him the most powerful actor on the planet.
Smith's most notable television role was that of "Will" Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In his film work, his notable roles include Agent J in Men in Black and Men in Black II, Muhammad Ali in Ali, as well as his role in the blockbuster Independence Day and more recently as Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness with his son Jaden Smith.
While it is widely reported that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Smith denied this in a Reader's Digest interview stating, "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college." This is corroborated in a Wired interview where he states he never applied to MIT.
Despite the above, when Smith appeared on Inside the Actors Studio, he stated that he was admitted to the "pre-engineering program" at MIT.
After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended in 1996, Smith began a successful solo music career while simultaneously starring in a series of films. The first two films were hugely successful summer blockbusters: Independence Day (1996), in which he played a fearless and confident fighter pilot, and Men in Black (1997), where he played the comic and confident Agent J against Tommy Lee Jones's deadpan Agent K. Smith's acting in Men in Black won critical praise. He originally rejected the lead role in Men in Black, but wife Jada Pinkett Smith coaxed him into acceptance. The two films established Smith's commercial reputation as a bankable star whose appeal across age, race, and gender lines could "open" a film at the box office. Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix in favor of Wild Wild West. After the failure of Wild Wild West and watching Keanu Reeves' performance, he suggests that he would not have been the appropriate actor for the role at the time, but still considers passing on The Matrix as a big mistake. He then gained lead roles in several box office successes including Men in Black II, Bad Boys II, Hitch, and I, Robot.
Smith can be found most recently starring in The Pursuit of Happyness with his son Jaden Smith; he received his second Academy Award nomination for the role for Best Actor but lost to Forest Whitaker.
Smith is an enthusiast for the games of chess, bingo and rummoli. He is also quite fond of video games.
Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are good friends of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, which has led to rumors that Will Smith is a believer in Scientology. He has denied that he has joined the Church of Scientology but has said "I just think a lot of the ideas in Scientology are brilliant and revolutionary and non-religious."