The Rise of The Fresh Prince (of Bel-Air)
Aktualisiert: Okt 9
Today we will look into the interesting career path of one of the most influential actors in the world. From deciding not to attend college to follow a rap dream and once that dream fell apart slowly, taking a once in a lifetime opportunity to star in one of the most successful TV sitcoms in the world. Today’s topic is “The Rise of the Fresh Prince.”
Will Smith was born on September 25th, 1968 in Philadelphia. He grew up in West Philly along with his three siblings.He attended a private catholic elementary school and then Overbrook High School. Will Smith was very smart and was interested in engineering just like father, but he turned down going to M.I.T(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) because he chose to follow his rap dreams.
Will and his childhood friend DJ Jazzy Jeff formed a hip hop group called DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and Will was the MC. They first met each other in 1985 when Jazzy Jeff was performing at a house party by Will’s house and he didn’t have his hype man, so Will filled in and they have been friends ever since. Jazz and Will then added in a third person to their group, Clarence Holmes, who took on the role as a beatboxer.
Word Up Records released their first single in late 1985 “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble,” and Will became known for his story-telling and profanity-free rap style.The single became a hit right before Will graduated from high school. Their first album Rock the House was released in 1986 on Word Up, but debuted on Jive Records in 1987. This album paved the way for a successful future for them. By the time they graduated high school the two were millionaires. Will and Jazzy Jeff received their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” in 1988. The hit single “Summertime” was their most successful single, and it earned them a second Grammy Award. They released a second album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper in 1988, but this album wasn’t nearly as successful as the first. And in This Corner in 1989, Homebase in 1991, and Code Red in 1993. Although claiming they didn’t split up, the duo stopped making music together after two albums. During this time Will got himself into some trouble with the IRS for not paying his taxes. They took everything from him and he was almost bankrupt, plus got arrested in 1989 for an alleged assault, but the charges were dropped. In 1990, he struggled, but then came his magic moment and NBC signed him to a contract.
But before he became the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, we were really just looking for a way to make money. Check out this short clip about how Will got started with the sitcom.
Will’s goal for himself was to become the biggest movie star in the world, and it didn’t take him that long to do so. His first major roles were in Six Degrees of Separation in 1993 and Bad Boys in 1995. In 1996, he starred in Independence Day and it became the second highest-grossing film in history at the time. He then starred in another successful film Men in Black in 1997 and he also began his solo music career with the release of hit single “Men in Black,” which became the theme song for the film. This led to the release of his first debut album Big Willie Style and it reached the top ten on the Billboard 200. The album went nine times platinum and some hit singles were “Just Cruisin” and “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It.”
Then came the Wild Wild West in 1998. The film was a flop and could’ve been better, but Will used it to his advantage. He released his second solo album and the lead single “Wild WIld West” featuring Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee, and the single topped the charts and went gold. His next album Willennium reached number five on the charts and went double platinum.
Will’s next big starring role was in the film Ali in 2001. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He took a break from music and made the return in 2002 releasing his third album Born to Reign and it was high on the Billboard 200 chart. The lead single “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” was the theme song for the new film Men in Black II.
Then in 2003 came Bad Boys II, Shark Tale, and iRobot, which were all successful in the box office. In 2005, he released his fourth solo album Lost and Found and it peaked at number six on the Billboard 200.
In 2006, he starred with his son Jaden in one of his best performances as an actor in The Pursuit of Happyness, which was a true story based on Chris Gardener. Then came I Am Legend, Hancock, Men in Black 3, and After Earth, which was a disappointment as a film.
Then moving on to 2015, he took on roles in Focus, Concussion, Suicide Squad, and Bright, which was released on Netflix in 2017. Although Will is a bit older than when we all first got introduced to him, he launched his youtube channel in July of 2019 and it became an instant hit in the youtube community.
He made his appearance back into the music world with Jazzy Jeff and released “Get Lit.” He also performed another new single “Live it Up” at the 2018 FIFA World Cup closing ceremony.
So more recently, Will made it back to the big stage starring as the genie in a remake of Disney’s classic film Aladdin. He recorded 3 singles for the film as well and it was released on May 24th, 2019. Disney fans were so ecstatic about the new remake, plus it involved Will Smith, which led to the film grossing over one billion dollars worldwide and it became Will's highest grossing film.
He starred in a few movies after these releases, but the main film that drew everyones attention was Bad Boys for Life. Fans waited patiently since 2003 for the third film to release and it finally did in 2020.
Will Smith has become one of the most influential people even in today’s generation. His life has been full of taking risks, that eventually helped his life for the better. Just think if he never took the chance and auditioned for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Who knows where he would’ve been today. He also uses the social media platform as a motivational tool to reach people around the world and he’s been successful with that.