Will Smith says daughter Willow’s ‘mutiny’ changed his view on success

‘No one wanted to be in a platoon,’ Hollywood actor says, reflecting on his apparently over-zealous mission to make his entire family famous

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 07 August 2023 06:48 BST
Will & Jaden Smith on new film

Will Smith says a “mutiny” by his daughter, Willow Smith, is what first caused him to change his perspective of success.

The Hollywood actor has been stepping back into the spotlight following his infamous outburst at the 2022 Oscars, where he slapped Chris Rock on stage after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

In an interview with fellow actor and comedian Kevin Hart, on his Peacock show Hart to Hart, Smith spoke about the moment his family rose to fame in 2010.

While Smith had enjoyed his own success from 1999 thanks to NBC’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Willow and his son Jada achieved their own fame in the early Noughties.

Musician Willow, 22, released her debut single “Whip My Hair” in 2010, breaking into the UK and US charts when she was just nine years old.

Meanwhile Jaden, a rapper and actor, starred opposite Jackie Chan and Taraji P Henson in The Karate Kid that same year, when he was 11.

“2010 was like the greatest year as an artist, as a parent,” Smith told Hart, Metro reports.

Karate Kid came out in June and ‘Whip My Hair’ came out in October. I’m building this dream of a family I’ve had in my mind. I’m going to do it better than my father did it. We’ve talked about it, my father was abusive.”

Smith seemed to imply that he was too hard on his family while trying to achieve the vision he had of a successful family.

“‘No one wanted to be in a platoon,” he said. “Willow was the first one to begin the mutiny and it was my first realisation that success and money don’t mean happiness.

“Up until that point, I really believed that you could succeed your way –  to a house and a family – and you could win your way to happiness.”

In a 2022 interview with The Independent, Willow Smith revealed that her parents struggled to understand her while she was growing up, due to their different upbringings.

Meanwhile Jaden, 25, asked to become emancipated – where a child is removed from the control of their parents or legal guardians – from his parents when he was a minor, aged 15. His request came after he starred opposite his father in the box-office disaster, After Earth, which was also panned by critics.

In his 2021 memoir, Smith recalled the moment his “heart shattered” when Jaden asked to become emancipated.

“And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit,” the Independence Day star wrote, adding: “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.”

Jaden ultimately decided against pursuing emancipation, but moved out of his family home that year.

Will Smith is currently shooting a Bad Boys sequel with Martin Lawrence, with whom he has co-starred in three previous Bad Boys films, including the 1999 original.

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