At The Beginning Of His Career, Will Smith Got Advice From These Huge Stars

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If you've seen even one episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" then you know at least a little bit about how actor Will Smith got his start. Though the show isn't necessarily based on his life, as Cheat Sheet notes, he does share certain similarities with his onscreen counterpart. Both Wills hail from Philadelphia. The moniker "The Fresh Prince" was actually adapted from Smith's real-life nickname of "Prince Charming," in order to epitomize his hip-hop sound when he embarked on a music career, per Britannica. But as it turns out, there is a real "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" — it's just not Smith! According to Cheat Sheet, the show is actually based on the life of Benny Medina, who served as the former Vice President of Artist and Repertoire at Warner Brothers. "Benny Medina is the real-life Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Smith once said. "He actually went from Watts [California] to Beverly Hills. Same basic concept, way shorter distance."

Initially, when Smith was first approached about getting involved with "Fresh Prince," he wasn't interested. "I'm not an actor," the rapper told Medina at the time. Even when he saw the script, Smith was still unsure that he was the right guy for the job. He asked to push the meeting, but instead, Medina urged Smith to "take 10 minutes and change [his] life forever." Smith got the part immediately following the audition, and the rest is history.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gave Will Smith advice he never forgot

Soon after Will Smith began starring on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," the rapper-turned-actor became a household name.  Beginning in 1992, The Wrap reported that Smith made the jump from TV to movies with his film debut in "Where The Day Takes You." He upped the ante in 1995 with the buddy cop comedy "Bad Boys," and followed it up with box office smashes like "Independence Day" and "Men In Black." Clearly, once Smith decided that acting was for him, he gave it his all.

Of course, the actor likely wouldn't have gotten to where he is today without some help along the way. In his self-titled memoir, which dropped in November 2021, Smith spoke about how he sought advice from some of the biggest movie stars of the day. After spotting Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger at a party, he reportedly asked them about becoming a movie star (via Insider). Schwarzenegger allegedly replied, "You are not a movie star if your movies are only successful in America. You are not a movie star until every person in every country on Earth knows who you are. You have to travel the globe, shake every hand, kiss every baby, think of yourself as a politician running for the biggest movie star in the world." It's advice that Smith clearly took to heart, as he has been one of the world's biggest celebrities since the 2000's.