Hey y’all! In my career I’ve met a lot of achievers, both famous and not so famous and I loved collecting their stories. One thing they all had in common was an absolute blind refusal to give up when the load became too heavy.
The ability to pick oneself off the ground…(yet again!) and dust off the seat of our pants is in all of us. If you are experiencing tough times this little series of stories is for you. For some folk, who seem to have been handed it all on a plate, their stories will surprise you!
WHO? : Will Smith
IS? : A rapper and actor
SAID? : ‘Make a choice. Decide. Decide what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you’re gonna do it’
Will Smith is riding high as one of the most popular and highest paid Hollywood stars. His unique trajectory has been to go from successful rap star in the 1980’s, to television star to Hollywood film star, whilst remaining down to earth, inspirational and likeable.
Smith first came to prominence as half of the rap duo Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Their music went against the grain of rap music at the time by remaining fun and free of profanity. They became the first rap act to win a Grammy in the newly created category and his frequent hits made Smith a millionaire before he was twenty. His Personal Ground Zero moment came when, having enjoyed his material success, he neglected to give the tax man his share and found himself owing millions…nearly three million to be more precise! His possessions were seized and near bankruptcy and broke he had to find a way to repay the millions.
He recalled one moment in his despair, whilst trying to think of ways to alleviate his financial problems, he was queuing up outside of popular 1980’s talk show host Arsenio Hall’s show. He happened to meet up with agent Benny Medina who just happened to be looking for someone to play the role in a new idea he had for a sit com centred around the story of his move from the stark inner city to living in wealthy Beverly Hills. The two of them took the idea to Quincy Jones who helped them get the green light from the NBC television network. In 1990 ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ became one of NBC’s highlights and marked the start of Smith’s acting career.
Following a six year successful run, Smith continued with music as a solo performer whilst starring in huge box office hits which incrementally built him into the no.1 box office star. It started with his lesser known film part in ‘Where The Day Takes You’ followed by a minor role alongside Whoopi Goldberg in ‘Made In America’ then the more challenging film, ‘Six Degrees of Separation,’ which served to show the Hollywood bigwigs Smith’s acting capabilities. But it really kicked off for him with the action cop thriller ‘Bad Boys.’ Since then apart from a few films, it has been an upward direction all the way with a beautiful, healthy family to boot.
Musically, despite huge hits such as ‘Men In Black,’ ‘Getting Jiggy With It,’ and ‘Just The Two Of Us,’ Columbia Records decided that his music career was over and dropped him from their label mid 2000’s. Smith had other ideas and came back with ‘Switch,’ his smash hit single with Interscope Records.
Grrr! Why YOU ain’t beat yet!
You are not beaten because in typical fighter style, Smith knew that he could not wimp out and rest on the laurels of his previous success. He knew he had to hustle. He could have easily taken the bankruptcy option but decided to work his way back. He has said that his greatest strength is his daunting work ethic. ‘I will not be out worked. Period. You might have more talent than me. You might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me…..but if we get on a treadmill together…..two things….you’re getting off first, or I’m gonna die, it’s really that simple……you are not going to out work me!’
That’s the key for Will’s story, don’t give up, hustle and work like your daddy owns the business!