Will Smith grew up in a middle class area in West Philadelphia called Wynnefield. Will attended the Overbrook High School located in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He got the nickname “Prince” because of the way he could charm his way out of trouble. Bright student Will also signed up with the high-status Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia.
Pursuing music, he met Jeffrey A. Townes at a party and they soon began performing together as “D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince“. When the duo took off in popularity, Smith made and spent a lot of money on a house, cars and jewelry, leading to his near-bankruptcy in his early twenties.
Luckily, in 1989, he met Benny Medina, who had an idea for a sitcom based on his life in Beverly Hills. Smith loved the idea as did NBC, which aired the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990. The plot was simple – Will basically played himself; a street-smart West Philly kid transplanted to Beverly Hills.
The series lasted six years. During that time, he ventured into movies where the critics took note of him in Six Degrees of Separation (1993). With the success that came with the action picture Bad Boys (1995), Will’s movie career was set. He had a huge Blockbuster hit with Independence Day (1996), where he plays the alien-battling Marine Corps Captain Steven Hiller.
He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood. Smith has been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards, 2 Academy Awards, and has won 4 Grammy Awards. As of 2014, his films have grossed $6.6 billion in global box office.