Will Smith is a game-changer in Black Hollywood, having been one of very few Black entertainers to have massive success in music, movies and television. Smith is also one of a small group of Black actors to have received multiple Academy Award nominations and most recently for his work in King Richard. So what makes Will so great and inspirational? According to Will, “Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste, it’s something that truly exists in all of us.” As we look forward to seeing Will hopefully take home the “Best Actor” trophy at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, let’s take a look at moments from his thirty-plus-year career that have inspired the world.
Getting the Gold From the Beginning
Just three years after arriving in the public eye as one half of the rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Will Smith was awarded his first Grammy. Smith then known as The Fresh Prince, achieved the honor alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff of being the first rappers to receive a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989. Will was barely into his twenties when he received the honor. Prior to Smith and Jazzy Jeff’s win, rap was not publicly viewed as an award-worthy genre of music, even so, the Grammy’s refused to televise the duo’s win during the live telecast. Smith subsequently protested, in an effort to allow for future recipients of the award to be televised as they received the honor. In the 32 years since receiving the award, other rappers including Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West would follow in Smith’s footsteps in receiving the award. Also following Smith and other rap artists of that time’s public stance against the rap performance award not being televised, the Grammys has shown the award and winners during the television broadcast.