Will Smith Reveals The One Project That Really Damaged His Family Dynamic

All four Smith family members are household names that carved their paths in the music, television, and film industries. Will Smith burst on the scene when his rap persona the Fresh Prince landed him a fictionalized TV series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 1990 (via The Wrap). He met his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, on set in 1994 (via Insider). Their son Jaden Smith made his film debut when he appeared alongside his father in the 2006 film "The Pursuit of Happyness." Similarly, his younger sister Willow Smith got an early taste of stardom with her hit single "Whip My Hair" in 2010. 

Unfortunately, the pressure to perform has taken its toll on both Willow and Jaden. The family was put to the test during Willow's rise to fame. The young performer decided to cancel the end of her European tour in a dramatic fashion by shaving off her iconic locks. "My jaw nearly dislocated, dislodged, and shattered on the kitchen floor," Will wrote in a shared excerpt of his memoir "Will" (via People). "My world-dominating, hair-whipping, future global superstar was totally bald. During the night, Willow had shaved her entire head." In the late 2010s Willow made a triumphant return to the music scene on her own terms, releasing pop-punk songs that have received critical acclaim and even gone viral on TikTok.

Jaden's also had a rough go at times, and one of his projects almost changed the Smith family dynamic for the worse.

Jaden Smith was affected by a box-office flop

In an excerpt of Will Smith's memoir "Will" that was obtained by People, the actor opened up about his family's highs and lows in the public eye. Namely, he recounted a 2013 conversation with Jaden Smith during which his son asked about becoming legally emancipated before his 15th birthday (via BuzzFeed). Following the interview, the father and son played the emancipation question off as a "joke." They confirmed on "The Ellen Show" that the young Smith would not be leaving home. Jaden even shared that his dad told him, "As soon as I have a movie that's bigger than one of his movies, I can get my own house." 

But Will's autobiography addressed the sensitive request through a more serious lens. It also described it as the immediate fallout from the box-office disappointment and harsh criticism of Jaden and Will's 2013 film "After Earth." 

"Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat," Will wrote in his memoir. He also opened up about feeling personally responsible for his son's involvement in the project. "Jaden had faithfully done everything that I'd instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he'd ever experienced."

Jada Pinkett Smith reflected on the fallout

Jada Pinkett Smith has also opened up about moments when the Smith family bond was tested by fame and public scrutiny. "Being in this lifestyle, in this world is a bubble and [Jaden] wanted out," she shared on an episode of "Red Table Talk," the Facebook Live show she hosts with her daughter Willow Smith and mom Adrienne Banfield-Jones. "I understood that because I didn't have the bubble," she continued. "I knew what having my freedom outside the bubble, what I gained from that." 

But it now seems like the Smith family has settled into a new era. In an interview with The New York Times, Will Smith opened up about his desire to move beyond perfectionism and rigid standards of achievement. "There was a part of me, when I started, that desperately craved the approval of the world." He said in the interview. "I wanted my children to align themselves to obtain the approval of the world." In a reflective period that emphasizes growth, Will now has a new mindset toward his and his family's careers. "I've been letting go of outcomes," he said.