Will Smith at the I Am Legend Premiere at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York City, December 11, 2007.
 
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Will Smith
Forecourt Ceremony held on Monday, December 10, 2007
 
Born: September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Age at the time of the ceremony: 38
 
Who doesn't like Will Smith? This intensely likeable performer ignited a career as a rapper, lept into television, and before long, was starring in Hollywood blockbusters. It seems that wherever Smith is going, we all want to tag along.

Will Smith grew up with his older sister and younger twin siblings in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Although his parents were Baptists, they sent Will to Catholic elementary school. They separated when Will was 13 years old. While living with his mother — who was a school board administrator — she enouraged Will, with his good SAT scores, to apply to MIT, but something told him to forget it. That thing was rap.

Teaming up with a childhood friend turned turntablist, Jeffrey Townes, and beatboxer Clarence Holmes in late 1985, they formed a group called "DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince." Discovered by A&R man Paul Oakenfold, his company released the group's first single and supported it with a video. The song was entitled, Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble (released in 1986). Smith became known for his funny, light-hearted raps, which featured no profanity; hip-hop had its first squeaky-clean star even before Smith had graduated from high school.

Signed to Jive Records, the group released their first album, Rock the House, followed by He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, which had the hit single and video Parents Just Don't Understand (released in 1988), which won the first Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989. The album spawned a second single/video A Nightmare on My Street (released in 1988).

IRS problems and an assault on record promoter William Hendricks brought the high-flying young man down a peg or two, but Smith struck paydirt with producer Quincy Jones and Andy and Susan Borowitz, who created a show for Will Smith to be in: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, airing over NBC for 148 episodes from September 1990 to May 1996. From this point, Smith began his quest to become "the biggest movie star in the world."

Starting out with a part in an ensemble piece about runaways in L.A., Where the Day Takes You (released in September 1992) with Laura Flynn Boyle, and then doing a supporting role in Whoopi Goldberg's hit Made in America (which played the Chinese in May 1993), his real breakthrough came as a mysterious character, claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier, terrorising a wealthy couple in Six Degrees of Separation (released in December 1993) with Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. The funny and shocking film brought Smith to the attention of movie-goers everywhere.

So, who was the first person to star Smith in an action picture? Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who put him in Bad Boys (released in April 1995) with Martin Lawrence, Right after Fresh Prince went off the air, Smith starred in Independence Day (which played the Chinese in July 1996), which made him a huuuge star everywhere. Who doesn't like his turn in this film?

Smith wanted to be a star; now he was one. The bizarre Men in Black (released in July 1997) with Tommy Lee Jones was a monster hit, and was followed by the thriller Enemy of the State (released in November 1998) with Gene Hackman. Feeling large, Smith worked with his Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld in the seriously misshapen Wild Wild West (released in June 1999) with Kevin Kline, which became something of a nortorious flop, but Smith bounced right back with Rebert Redford's sentimental The Legend of Bagger Vance (released in November 2000) with Matt Damon.

Director Michael Mann cast Smith in his biopic of Mohammed Ali (released in December 2001) with Jamie Foxx, then the following summer, Smith was back in Men in Black II (released in July 2002) again with Tommy Lee Jones.

Now, a Will Smith picture was on the schedule for each of the major holidays: for summer, Bad Boys II (which played the Chinese in July 2003) again with Martin Lawrence, and I, Robot (which played the Chinese in July 2004); for Valentine's Day, Hitch (released in February 2005) with Eva Mendes; for Christmas, The Pursuit of Happyness (released in December 2006) with his son, Jaden Smith, and I Am Legend (which played the Chinese in December 2007) with Alice Braga.

The summertime pics kept coming: Hancock (released in July 2008) with Charlize Theron, Men in Black 3 (released in May 2012) once more with Tommy Lee Jones, and After Earth (released in May 2013), this time, co-staring with his son Jaden Smith.

For Valentine's Day, the caper film Focus (which played the Chinese in February 2015) with Margot Robbie; for Christmas, Concussion (released in December 2015) with Alec Baldwin; for summer, a smash hit with Suicide Squad (which played the Chinese in August 2016) with Jared Leto; and for Christmas again, Collateral Beauty (released in December 2016) with Edward Norton.

Smith is still considered a star who can "open," but the man is hedging his bets with streaming, starting with Bright (streaming over Netflix, beginning in December 2017) with Joel Edgerton. And for those who cannot get enough of Will Smith, there's Will Smith's Bucket List, streaming over Facebook Watch, featuring wife Jada Pinkett Smith and son Jaden Smith.

Smith headlined in the remake of Aladdin (which played the Chinese in May 2019) with Naomi Scott, then the actioner Gemini Man (which premiered and played the Chinese in October 2019) with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and starred with Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life (which played the Chinese in January 2020).
 
 
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Will Smith Forecourt block. Executed by unknown, Monday, December 10, 2007. 47 x 38 inches.
Mann's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Will Smith Forecourt ceremony, Monday, December 10, 2007. Will Smith gives the cameras a hearty grin while pressing on.
 
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