Willow & Jaden Discuss Social Media, Sibling Competition & Their Parents’ Influence With Pharrell
I told y’all how I feel about Willow and Jaden. I love them. I’m here for their difference in a world where so many people, especially teenagers are trying to be the same. And while far too many have dismissed them as pretentious, too privileged to have an opinion about the happenings in the real world and strange. I just believe that when people are confronted with anything other than the status quo, their first reaction is to recoil.
The last time we spotlighted an interview from this brother and sister duo, that was the response from the voices of the internet.
Never to be discouraged, Willow and Jaden are continuing their crusade to spread love and light. And they sat down with Pharrell with Interview, to do just that.
Check out a couple of highlights from the piece below.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS: So, what’s up, guys? What’s on your mind, Willow?
WILLOW SMITH: This morning actually was pretty intense because I was thinking about the world and my place in the world, things that I have made or want to make. I was thinking about all the things that I could do that I don’t do. But, you know, I was just thinking about the world and everything.
PHARRELL: Well, you guys are the future. There’s an older generation that feels like they know what the future should be. And then there’s your generation that may have an idea of what the future should be, but that could evolve. How old are you now?
WILLOW: I’m 15.
JADEN SMITH: I actually just turned 18 last Friday.
PHARRELL: Do you guys ever feel any generational divide when you have a conversation with older folks?
WILLOW: Oh, definitely. It seems like they don’t understand our thought process. Or, like, things have happened in the past that they’re still mad about. We want to accept them and move forward. I mean, I can definitely see things that have happened in the past that they’re holding on to and things that are happening right now that bog them down, but this generation wants to transcend them.
PHARRELL: It would be cool if they would remember when they were teenagers what the generational divide was then. Except that the generational divide is much more blunt at this time. You guys grew up online. Part of your life is on social media. And when they look at it as just something to do, they don’t realize that they also essentially live online. They don’t realize that their phone has replaced their wallet.
WILLOW: Yep. I know so many kids who literally are, like, Instagram-famous. They have done nothing but post pictures on Instagram. And they have followings. People love to see them in person, but it’s only because they post on their Instagram. It’s literally crazy. Kids will paint a picture of themselves that is so far beyond who they actually are. It’s like they’re wearing someone else’s skin.
PHARRELL: I love that there are pros and cons to all of it. I feel like your generation understands that. Some of them abuse it. And some just purely use it.
WILLOW: And then there’s people, like me and Jaden, who want to utilize social media to elevate the consciousness of those people who feel like all they want from social media is to be famous. [laughs] Like, you can actually be a voice. You can actually say something that’s inspiring and not just make people feel like you need to buy things and be a certain way.
JADEN: It’s good to be happy and tell us how cool your life is and how awesome you are on social media. That’s great because it inspires other people to be happy, too. But a lot of times, people are trying to be happy in the wrong ways—with money or with different things that are not true happiness. It’s leading people down a rabbit hole that actually doesn’t exist. So people think like, “Yo, once I get this money and these cars and stuff, I’ma be so happy.” But that’s not true. And I feel like that’s why it’s very important to educate people on different things while you are actually on social media.
PHARRELL: I love it. The positive path and the trajectory that you guys are on, where does that come from? Who are your biggest inspirations?
WILLOW: My parents. Growing up, all I saw was my parents trying to be the best people they could be, and people coming to them for wisdom, coming to them for guidance, and them not putting themselves on a pedestal, but literally being face-to-face with these people and saying, “I’m no better than you, but the fact that you’re coming to me to reach some sort of enlightenment or to shine a light on something, that makes me feel love and gratitude for you.” They always give back what people give to them. And sometimes they keep giving and giving and giving. And some people don’t feel like they need to give anything back because it’s like, “Oh, if you’re famous, you can just keep giving, and it doesn’t matter.” It’s not just about money. It’s not just about giving people gifts or whatever. What my parents have given to me is not anything that has to do with money or success or anything that society says people should be focusing on—it’s something spiritual that only certain people can grasp and accept. And that’s how I act and move in the world today.
JADEN: I 100 percent agree with Willow on that one. My parents are definitely my biggest role models. And that’s where me and Willow both pull all of our inspiration from to change the world. It all comes from a concept of affecting the world in a positive way and leaving it better than it was than when we came. I feel like that enters into all types of different areas because there are so many different outlets that life has to offer for us. That goes into technology, into music. That goes into science, into spirituality, into education. Where me and Willow come from, a lot of it is trying to make society more efficient, so that kids don’t cry, like, “Why do I have to go to school?” Instead, kids are like, “Yeah! I’m so glad to go to school! I’m a better person than I was yesterday, and I can help people.”
PHARRELL: It’s beautiful that you guys are in such lockstep. Willow, you once said that you felt like the two of you were almost like identical twins, like you could finish each other’s thoughts. Were you guys always that close?
WILLOW: Yeah. It’s crazy, the sibling dynamic. I could’ve spent my entire childhood like, “I have to love this person.” And it becomes a chore. But our parents were never like, “You have to love them.” It was more like, “You have your life. He has his life. And when you guys want to come together, when you guys want to commune, that’s up to you.” And throughout us realizing ourselves and realizing each other, we just opened our eyes and were like, “Damn, you are the yin to my yang.” Not a lot of siblings have that opportunity, because they’re always being pushed together so much. They need their time apart in order to realize themselves and realize who they are.
PHARRELL: Has there ever been, like, some love-based competition?
JADEN: We never really felt competitive because Willow’s always been better than me at everything. There’s been no competition.
WILLOW: [laughs] Pharrell, that is so not true.
JADEN: Willow started making music first. I was like, “My younger sister is, like, 4, and she’s making all these fire songs. What’s happening?” Willow was doing all these things, about to have record label deals at like the age of 6, and I was like, “I feel like I’m underachieving.” That was around the time that I was doing Karate Kid, and I could do flips, and I thought I was special because I could do flips. But Willow could do the flips, too! Willow naturally had it. Like, I was trying to do no-handed cartwheels. Willow had it. I was trying to get to the studio. Willow was in the studio. You know what I’m saying? Willow just didn’t have as big as a passion for acting as me. But if she did, she could do what I did. So there’s always been competition, but we’ve always worked as hard as possible to do the things that we want to do. We never got upset because we could always do the same thing. It happened so that me and Willow were able to go through every level or different section of life that we wanted to. If we wanted to act, we could act. If we wanted to dance, we were dancing. And we could do it on the level that we wanted to do it. So there was no, like, “I’m mad at you.” Well, we would get mad at each other when we were young, but that stopped when we were, like, 9.
PHARRELL: It seems that you’ve always been—I hate using this word—famous. You’ve always been easily recognized for what it is that you do. So do you guys separate your public and private selves?
JADEN: I think we definitely do. How people look at us in public is not how we actually are in private. It’s just that we choose not to tell everyone everything. Like, okay, I’m in New York right now. I’m not posting an emoji of a plane on Instagram, like, “New York.” I don’t want anyone to know that I’m here in New York. And by the time this comes out, I won’t be. We don’t like people to really know what’s happening with us or what we’re into. The only thing that we want to keep people updated with is that we want to keep the kids that are following us, the kids that are looking up to us updated on what we’re learning and what we’re thinking about life. So that’s why we have our brand MSFTSrep, but that’s a different story. That’s where we try to fuel the youth. Like, I have a homie right now, his name is Ian. He’s from D.C. He’s a super young dude. He’s been a MSFTS fan for, like, ever. He’s been to our shows. He’s just starting to make music. And he’s out here with me right now because I got him a hotel room at the spot that I’m staying at, for him and his homies to just to, like, witness a lifestyle, see that anything’s possible. I put him here in New York City, his first time ever in New York City in his life, to be like, “Yo, this is what it’s like. Anything’s possible. Keep going.” We’re trying to inspire kids, like, “Join me and Willow. Join with the squad. And let’s really, like, change the world.”
PHARRELL: So you do have to censor yourself on social media? Do you also regulate your usage?
WILLOW: Definitely! Even for people like us who have an awareness that’s slightly more awakened, it still takes over your mind. And you find yourself randomly going on your phone for no reason, randomly doing things. It becomes compulsive, and you have to start asking yourself, “Whoa, what is the real reason for me checking my Instagram every five minutes? What is the real reason for me posting this photo right now?” I never want to do things impulsively that have no meaning or intent, especially on social media.
You can check out the rest of the conversation on Interview.