Will Smith, a prominent figure in today’s film industry, has had his share of career struggles before achieving stardom. Before gaining widespread recognition with the hit NBC sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Smith had worked as a rapper alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff. However, his entry into the entertainment industry required some creative measures, including stretching the truth about his acting abilities. Despite the immense popularity and financial success he achieved through the show, Smith faced challenges in fully enjoying his newfound wealth.
Smith’s journey to success involved a bit of deception. During the casting process for “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the show’s executive producer, Quincy Jones, inquired about Smith’s acting experience. At the time, Smith was a newcomer to the field, but he decided to lie and claim he had acting skills. He justified this decision by emphasizing the importance of always saying “yes” when asked if one can do something, even if they can’t. Smith recalled the pivotal moment when Quincy Jones asked him to audition and shared his reasoning:
“I think it’s important, as a rule, if someone asks you if you can do something, always say yes. Even if you can’t. Quincy Jones wants to have an audition, right? And Michael Jackson was behind me, 48 million sold on Thriller, and Oprah was behind me on the other side – The Color Purple – and I’m sitting there, and, you know, I look back at Michael, and he was like, ‘What’re you gonna do, Will?’ And it was like, just in that moment, you know, Quincy was like, ‘You’re making a decision that’s gonna affect the rest of your life. And I was like, ‘Let’s do it.'”
This strategic move ultimately worked in Smith’s favor, leading to him securing the role in the series. His performance was well-received by the audience, and by the end of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Smith had even landed a leading role in the 1996 blockbuster sci-fi film “Independence Day.”
However, despite the financial success brought about by his hit series, Smith couldn’t fully enjoy his fortune. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” aired for six seasons from 1990 to 1996 and earned Smith a substantial sum of $2.8 million within the first three seasons alone. Unfortunately, he faced financial obligations that prevented him from indulging in his earnings. Before entering the acting world, Smith had been a rapper, and a significant portion of his income was used to repay taxes owed from his music career.
Smith’s initial foray into acting was primarily driven by the need to generate income to settle his tax debts. His journey into the film industry was a result of unforeseen circumstances, as he had to address his financial obligations from his rap career. Despite the challenges he faced along the way, Will Smith’s remarkable talent and determination propelled him to become a celebrated actor in the entertainment industry.