All Articles Tagged "Will Smith"
On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jada Pinkett Smith made a very powerful plea to Black Hollywood, but from a very corny place.
What I mean is, in this video post uploaded to her Facebook account, Smith made it known that she would not be attending or watching the Academy Awards.
More specifically she said:
“I can’t help but ask the question, is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? I ask the question, have we come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group? Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power. I’m simply asking the question.
Here’s what I believe: The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose. To invite whomever they choose. And now I think that it is our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit. That are just as good as the so-called ‘mainstream ones.’ I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know: Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity. It diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful. And let’s not forget it.
So, let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us – differently.”
Generally speaking, I am of the firm belief that asking for help is neither undignified nor does it make one powerless. Quite the contrary. And as a people, we need to stop asking – no, demanding – that we suffer in silence for the sake of public image, a.k.a., “dignity.”
Nevertheless, this is a very powerful sentiment from one-half of Hollywood’s Black power couple. And not something that we haven’t heard countless times from those outside and inside Hollywood before. For instance, Anthony Mackie has been very vocal in his belief that Black people need to stop begging for recognition and begin creating our own.
But powerful sentiments aside, I hope that means Smith and others, including the likes of Snoop Lion and Spike Lee, who too are supporting the boycott, will keep that in mind the next time an invite comes in the mail from the NAACP Image Awards or BET Honors award shows.
And I’m serious.
In a video posted to his social media networks, Snoop Lion not only offered his support for Smith’s planned boycott but keenly noted, “I say let’s have a hood awards where we give all Black people what they due and deserve. From yesteryear, today and tomorrow.”
Googly side-eye emoticon…
But to be fair, he likely rolled up the invite and smoked it by accident.
Even still, there is something to be said for folks getting in their feelings about what these White award shows aren’t doing and how we need to “boycott,” but when Black award season rolls around, you have Terrence J and M.C. Hammer accepting an award on their behalf.
To me, that’s corny.
Also kind of corny is telling Black folks to show some dignity by not “begging” the Oscars for acceptance while previously advocating for the further integration of Essence magazine (i.e., The “if we ask our white sisters, who tend to be the guardians of the covers of mainstream magazines, to consider women of color to grace these covers, should we not offer the same consideration to white women to grace our covers?” question she posted on her Facebook page).
And if that doesn’t meet your corniness threshold, here comes the original Aunt Viv with a video of her own to point out how it wasn’t fair for Smith to ask other actors and actresses to “jeopardize” their careers. Especially when the power couple personally made millions from “the very people you talking about boycotting.” Likewise, Janet Hubert pointed out that Jada would probably have no interest in a boycott of the Academy Awards if not for her husband’s film getting a snub.
She also took a moment to, once again, remind us that Smith ain’t nothin’ but a low-down dirty dog. More accurately, the “Blackstress” said in full saturation:
“And I seem to recall that twenty-six-seven, twenty-five…I don’t seem to remember. But I remember at option time coming to you and saying, you know what Will? You’re the star of the show. Why don’t we all get together and with you, maybe we can get a little raise. Maybe the network, since the show is such a hit and you being the star of the show, your influence will help us greatly like they did on Friends; like they did on White shows. Do you remember that? I do. And your response to me was, ‘My deal is my deal and y’alls deal is y’alls deal.’
Well, karma must be a b—h because here you are…”
Aunt Viv over there sounding more like Aunt Esther.
To be fair, the Smiths have not exactly been dormant when it comes to social justice issues. In fact, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince once led a very public boycott of the 1989 Grammy Awards even though they were nominated and ultimately won an award. As noted by DJ Jazzy Jeff in an interview from 2014 with BET:
At the time, less than three decades ago, while the awards committee didn’t want to televise the category nomination for rap’s first Grammy recipients, they did ask them to perform. “It was almost like, you kind of want us to be the token,” Jeff said. “This is our contribution to hip hop on the Grammys, but it’s not big enough for us to televise the category.”
That “slap in the face” led the duo to boycott. “We didn’t know what that was going to do for our career, but at that point, in that stage of hip hop, you had people saying that hip hop is only going to be around for a certain amount of time.”
And I would be flagrant if I didn’t mention that the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation and Overbrook Entertainment has put a lot of their money behind projects. That includes the Million Man March, Justice…Or Else! and the Free Angela and All Political Prisoners documentary, as well as the film and television programs Love & Basketball, ATL and the Queen Latifah Show. And then there is Jada Pinkett Smith’s very passionate support of the campaign to end human trafficking.
So if Jada, in particular (because Will hasn’t said a thing), is only boycotting the Academy from a self-serving place, one could see how she might feel like she has earned herself some privilege.
Not to mention that this – Hollywood – is their chosen profession. And unlike other actors and actresses who like to seek change elsewhere in the world while failing to call out the injustices in their own backyard, I appreciate Jada for at least trying to use her position to push for reform. Even if she is now just waking up.
Wherever it comes from, there’s no doubt that this boycott needs to happen. Hell, it needed to happen years ago, and not just at Oscar time. There is a lot of money being made off of our image and stories while not including us. There are a lot of tax incentives (i.e., our tax dollars) going to help support Hollywood films that don’t support us. And there are a lot of good Black actors, actresses, directors, producers, writers…down to the Black gophers being denied key platforms and positions and money within a global industry needed to help us build and ensure that our own institutions flourish.
Yes, we have to build our own, but we can’t build our own in isolation. Even Tyler Perry, who has his own, answers to somebody.
And yes, we have to build our own. But building our own takes time, especially when we are attempting to build our own in a way that structurally opposes how “the man” had come to build his (i.e., through oppression, slavery, imperialism, colonialism, segregation, discrimination, etc…).
So while I fully understand the criticism of the boycott and too think the possible motivation for it is corny, I’m also thankful that one of Black Hollywood’s biggest gatekeeping couples has finally seen some parts of the light. Maybe we can finally get somewhere…
This week, The Hollywood Reporter released their annual actor’s roundtable issue. The roundtable interview featured Will Smith, Benicio del Toro, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Joel Edgerton and Mark Ruffalo, who were all asked a series of questions surrounding their profession. When asked if prejudice had ever affected their careers, Will Smith had this to say:
My wife and I were just having this conversation, and we were going to the dictionary for “prejudice” versus “racism.” Everybody is prejudiced. Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another — it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white. But there is a connotation with racism of superiority: You feel that your race generally is superior. And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare — someone who thinks their race is superior. I don’t want to work for them. I don’t want to work at that company. And the times I have come in contact with it, you get away from those people.
Will Smith is right: racism is rare…if you are one of the biggest entertainers in the world who has millions of dollars in the bank and can create the roles and opportunities you want. Smith has the type of clout that allows him the choice to move in and out of circles that don’t serve his needs. He has the type of money (and pull at the box office) that makes smart Hollywood people with racist views know when to shut their mouths. He and his family are visible on a worldwide scale in such a way that they may not experience very many moments of blatant hate due to what they look like. Indeed, racism is absolutely very rare for the Will Smiths of the world.
There are definitely moments when racism rears its heads for Black people in Hollywood, like the time a boutique employee assumed Oprah couldn’t afford a purse the store carried so she wouldn’t let her see it. But moments like those are few and far between because big money and fame tend to silence hate when you’re in a high position of power in Hollywood. Because of his status and bank balance, Will Smith does not have to deal with the pressures of being the average Black man in Hollywood or America as a whole. Statistically, if Smith had never become an A-list star and he was just a working-class man from West Philadelphia, he or one of his sons might be in jail. This is because systemic racism is deeply ingrained within our society, and it is hellbent on keeping Black people down.
His statement was earnest but cloaked in both naiveté and ignorance, and it’s important to bear in mind that Will Smith has been rich and A-list famous for far longer than he was a poor kid from West Philly. While he was busy looking up the distinct differences between the definitions of prejudice and racism, racist and prejudice acts were disproportionately occurring against other POC in entertainment and the working class. For Smith to make a statement in a well-known publication that denies the constant nature of racism is wholly irresponsible and shows of his privilege. When bigots hear people like Smith say that racism is rare (even if just in Hollywood), it provides them ammunition, or better yet, justification to do nothing when racist acts occur. It also allows them to dismiss the underlining cause behind the lack of diversity onscreen and behind the camera.
It is great that we as Black people can see someone ascend to the heights of success that Will Smith has attained, but it is dangerous that while high on his perch, he should dare make such a lofty statement with such long-reaching effects.
The Hollywood Reporter just released details of its annual awards season Actor Roundtable, and unlike the colorless actress magazine cover which sparked this thinkpiece, there’s actually a good deal of diversity. The actors’ cover features Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Benecio Del Toro, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Joel Edgerton. So, naturally, the conversation at some point delved into race, diversity, and discrimination.
Asked whether prejudice has affected their careers, Del Toro, who hails from Puerto Rico said “One of the first things that they said to me when I came here was, ‘Change your name.'” Looking over his career, the 48-year-old actor who starred in Sicario this year said “Maybe that’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever done, not changing my name.”
Will Smith, who will play Dr. Bennet Omalu in the much buzzed about Concussion had a bit of a different take on the question, choosing to touch on the nuance between racism and prejudice.
“My wife and I were just having this conversation, and we were going to the dictionary for ‘prejudice’ versus ‘racism.’ Everybody is prejudiced. Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another — it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white. But there is a connotation with racism of superiority: You feel that your race generally is superior. And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare — someone who thinks their race is superior. I don’t want to work for them. I don’t want to work at that company. And the times I have come in contact with it, you get away from those people.”
Will Smith failed to acknowledge that he has the luxury to get away from the racism he for some reason thinks it’s rare, but that’s a whole different topic.
Moving on along, THR asked the men whether they think actors can do anything to combat the prejudice they come in contact with. In true Samuel give no effs Jackson fashion, the Hateful Eight actor responded with a flat out “No.” But Smith did at least point out that people in his position can impart change — should they choose to recognize things actually need to be changed.
“As actors we have the ultimate power. Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward. What we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds. So when I’m choosing a movie, I understand the global power of being able to send imagery around the world. A large part of the way that America is viewed globally is from the historical imagery that we have sent around the world through cinema. Any time I put something in the world, I am always connecting to an idea. I’m always asking, ‘Why am I making this?’ With Concussion, Dr. Bennet Omalu was deeply connected to tell the truth. And he said that truth doesn’t have a side. I thought that was such a powerful idea. Whose side are you on? Are you a Republican or a Democrat? I’m just trying to tell the truth. The truth doesn’t have a side.”
Too bad Smith didn’t choose to tell the truth that racism isn’t rare, it’s actually quite rampant.
Back in August, we reported that Will Smith’s production company, Overbook Productions, had a Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air reboot up their sleeves, readying the new show for pitches to networks.
The details and updates on the progress they’ve made concerning the reboot has been fairly mum. Recently, Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the role of Carlton, recently sat with Huffington Post, giving his opinion on the possible reboot.
“It’s not exciting to me because I know it ain’t gonna happen,” he said. “And if it happened, it wouldn’t be Fresh Prince. It would be something that’s taking the story of the show and having all new people do something. To me, that’s not Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Is Will Smith starring in it? No. Then it ain’t no Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Even still, if the whole cast were to reunite, Ribeiro says it still wouldn’t be the same without James Avery who died in 2013. “James Avery passed, and he was the backbone of that show,” he said. “Without him, we have no show, and so I simply feel there’s no reason to do it.”
While Ribeiro won’t be reprising his role as Carlton Banks, he did offer up a great guess as to what Mr. Banks would be up to these days. “He’s a lawyer. He went to Princeton, and he came back to Bel-Air and he’s living the life as a big-time lawyer following his dad’s footsteps in Bel-Air,” he said. “That’s what I would say is happening with Carlton.”
Check out the full interview here.
For decades, Whites actors and actresses have been cast to play people of color in Hollywood, making whitewashing a very nasty habit in Tinsel Town. But these Black actors managed to turned the table and were selected to star in traditionally White roles.
Michael B. Jordan
Comic book fans everywhere were in an uproar when Michael B. Jordan was selected to play Johnny Storm in the reboot of The Fantastic Four. But Chris Evans, who first played the role a decade earlier, gave Jordan his stamp of approval in hopes to appease loyal fans. The film tanked anyway at the box office and studio executives hope the sequel, which had already been announced, can salvage the franchise.
We all know there’s no such thing as a perfect guy. Even still, it’s nice to dream about meeting a man who is the entire package. Can’t a gal dream? Continue clicking to check out which celebrity men are about as perfect as it gets for us.
What’s there not to love about Idris Elba? With his chocolate skin, captivating eyes and that heartwarming British accent, any woman would fall head over heels for him. Elba first came across our radar as Stringer Bell in HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire and we haven’t had enough of him yet.
Jada Pinkett-Smith celebrates her 44th birthday today, and her husband, Will Smith, took to social media to send his wife of 18 years a thoughtful and heartfelt birthday wish. The sweet message accompanied a throwback photo of the couple snapped at Pinkett-Smith’s mother’s house 20 years ago. The Focus actor writes:
This was taken at your mom’s house 20 years ago. That’s a long time ago!!! So I decided to do some math…
I have sung happy birthday to you 20 times and I have bought you 19 birthday presents (I was mad that one year). I have watched you blow out 693 candles (737 after tonite). I’ve told you “I love you” at least 8,285 times. And of the nearly 3.96 Billion women on the planet – there is only 1 that I want to spend the rest of my life with.
Happy Birthday, my Love!
Will Smith’s latest biopic Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu , the Nigerian forensic pathologist who discovered the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after performing an autopsy on Mike Webster, a retired Pittsburgh Steelers’ player, in 2002. Usually found in football players and wrestlers, CTE causes early-onset dementia which potentially leads to death.
In the film, Dr. Omalu (Will Smith) is faced with opposition from the NFL after he diagnoses several football players with the disease. Instead of addressing the health problems their athletes face, the NFL intimidates Dr. Omalu in order for him to deny CTE is real. Not backing down, Dr. Omalu makes it his mission to make the public aware about CTE and how it affects the mental health of athletes.
See how Dr. Omalu’s story unfolds in the trailer below.
Concussion premieres in theaters on Christmas Day.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith are one of the most prolific and successful couples in Hollywood. And despite rumors of swinging, infidelity, and impending divorce, they remain a shining example of Black love in Tinseltown. Together, they have raised a family in which their daughter Willow and their son Jaden have been able to become empowered and unique artists; even if their point of views are oft-applauded and denounced in the culture. And while trying to be the best parents possible, Will has still found time to reignite his film career, and Jada has remained a constant in television and movies. She has had a banner year so far with her roles in the hit Fox series Gotham and her scene-stealing turn as “Rome” in Magic Mike XXL.
Will and Jada have never given anyone reason to think that their marriage is in the dumps. And yet, they are so often plagued with rumors of a split that Will, who virtually ignores any and all rumors about his family, finally spoke out about the situation. He said this on his Facebook page on Monday:
Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually respond to foolishness. (Because it’s contagious) But, so many people have extended me their “deepest condolences” that I figured – “What the hell… I can be foolish, too!”
So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness… Jada and I are…
NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! : -)
I promise you all – if I ever decide to divorce my Queen – I SWEAR I’ll tell you myself!
#Dumb People Should Have to Wear Scarlet D’s
A short while later, Jada hopped on social media to support her husband’s statement with a simple response:
My king has spoken.
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) August 3, 2015
And if that weren’t confirmation enough, Willow tweeted out her thoughts on the constant reports:
The media thinks my parents are getting divorced like every second hahaha !
— Willy (@OfficialWillow) August 4, 2015
The family delivered the ultimate “Bye Felicia” to the rumors. Will dropped that Facebook message and then went on and partied at the OVO Fest with Kanye and Drake. Jada threw on a bikini and flaunted her flawless figure on a beach in Hawaii, completely unbothered. So with the death of that latest rumor, fellow media outlets, haters, and naysayers, can you finally leave Will and Jada alone?
The entertainment dynasty they’re creating is important. To see Will Smith be a caring Black father and husband while maintaining his position among Hollywood’s elite is necessary as we often don’t see many positive representations of the Black family in entertainment. To see them support their daughter who is quickly becoming a role model by choosing to stay true to her unique look and perspective is important. Watching Jaden become a young international star and an individual who motivates young people to think outside the box is a beautiful thing. There’s been no family like the Smiths, and whether you hate them or love them, they’re living their lives their way and doing nothing to hurt others. That’s why it’s maddening that the media has been on a mission to split Will and Jada up for so long. It is the plight of the A-list star. Once you become very successful and your fame elevates to a prominent level, the media seeks to find a chink in your armor in order to feed the obsessive public. Many people like to watch people reach success, but a lot of people really enjoy watching the mighty fall. And while we’ve seen the end of several long-term A-list celebrity marriages within the last year—Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, and Chris Rock and Malaak Compton—I am thrilled that Will and Jada are not a part of that list.
No one knows what really goes on behind closed doors. At the end of the day, I’m going to take Will and Jada’s social media word as bond. If the day comes where they say they are splitting up, I’ll believe it. If they say they’re staying together and they love each other, as they have, then I believe it, and I champion it. May we see more examples of prominent Black love in Hollywood in the future.
And while celebrity marriages are ending quicker than Meek Mill’s rap career, the Smiths have put their collective feet on the ground and set the record straight. Now, can they live?
All day long, media outlets have been claiming that Will and Jada are ending their 17 year marriage. The story gained such traction that it was one of the top trending topics on Facebook. It was everywhere.
But if you fell for the trap and clicked on the story, you probably noticed that there were no receipts to speak of. There was an unnamed source and there were no official documents.
This has happened far too many times for us to take this seriously. But it kept growing and growing.
And just as people were starting to doubt the authenticity of Will and Jada’s love, our boy released a statement through his own Facebook page.
See what he said.
And then Jada came through with a co-sign.
My king has spoken.
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) August 3, 2015
Well, there you have it.