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File: Will Smith
Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968), also known by his stage name The Fresh Prince, is an American actor, producer, and rapper.
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 four Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won multiple Grammy Awards.
In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for nearly six years (1990–1996) on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. In the mid-1990s, Smith moved from television to film, and ultimately starred in numerous blockbuster films. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office and the only one to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at #1 spot in the domestic box office tally.
Fourteen of the nineteen fiction films he has acted in have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million, and four took in over $500 million in global box office receipts. As of 2011, his films have grossed $5.7 billion in global box office. His most financially successful films have been Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Independence Day, Men in Black, Men in Black II, I, Robot, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Hancock, Wild Wild West, Enemy of the State, Shark Tale, Hitch and Seven Pounds. He also earned critical praise for his performances in Six Degrees of Separation, Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, receiving Best Actor Oscar nominations for the latter two.
Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also spent time in Germantown in Northwest Philadelphia. His mother, Caroline (née Bright), was a school administrator who worked for the Philadelphia school board, and his father, Willard Christopher Smith, Sr., was a refrigeration engineer. He was raised Baptist. His parents separated when he was thirteen, and did not actually divorce until around 2000.
It is untrue, though widely reported, that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he never applied to the school, although he was admitted to a "pre-engineering program" there. According to Smith, "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."
Smith was raised by his parents in West Philadelphia. Smith credits his father's dedication when discussing his own involvement in the lives of his three children: "I look at my father and how he was able to keep four kids fed and clothed and still managed to find time to spend with us." Smith married Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had a son, Willard Christopher Smith III, also known as "Trey", but divorced in 1995. Trey appeared in his father's music video for the 1998 single "Just the Two of Us". Smith married actress Jada Pinkett in 1997. Together they have had two children: Jaden Christopher Syre (born 1998), his co-star in The Pursuit of Happyness, and Willow Camille Reign (born 2000), who appeared as his daughter in I Am Legend. Along with his brother, Harry Smith, he owns Treyball Development Inc., a Beverly Hills-based company named after his first son. Smith and his family reside on Star Island in Miami Beach, Florida and in Los Angeles, Stockholm, Sweden and Philadelphia.
Smith was consistently listed in Fortune Magazine's "Richest 40" list of the forty wealthiest Americans under the age of 40 and according to magazine article Celebrity Net Worth Smith's estimated net personal wealth is stated at $188 million. He donated $4,600 to the presidential campaign of Democrat Barack Obama. December 11, 2009, Smith and his wife hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, when Obama had won the prize.
Smith has said he has studied multiple religions, including Scientology, and he has said many complimentary things about Scientology and other faiths. Despite his praise of Scientology, Smith said "I just think a lot of the ideas in Scientology are brilliant and revolutionary and non-religious" and "Ninety-eight percent of the principles in Scientology are identical to the principles of the Bible.... I don't think that because the word someone uses for spirit is 'thetan' that the definition becomes any different." He has denied having joined the Church of Scientology, saying "I am a Christian. I am a student of all religions, and I respect all people and all paths." Smith gave $1.3 million to charities in 2007, of which $450,000 went to two Christian ministries, and $122,500 went to three Scientology organizations; the remaining beneficiaries included "a Los Angeles mosque, other Christian-based schools and churches, and the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Center in Israel". Smith and his wife have also founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California, the New Village Leadership Academy, which uses Study Technology, a teaching methodology developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.
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