“Will Smith’s transformation from a West Philadelphia kid to one of the biggest rap stars of his era, and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, is an epic tale — but it’s only half the story.
Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: Not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: They felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.”
I’m a fan of Will Smith. When I was in high school, we had a radio/TV station where kids played their favorite music and Deejayed. The shows were also broadcast on our local cable access TV channel, so we were Veejays, too! And you better believe that some of the music we played was DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. That’s my way of saying I was an early fan of Smith’s, and have followed his career trajectory from hip hopper and TV actor to MEGA super star of films. And it’s clear from listening to the audiobook of Will (Amazon), Will Smith is a fan of himself as well. 🙂
For most of the book, this a straight-up honest and forthright memoir, narrated by Smith himself. Let me tell you if you didn’t already know it, he knows how to entertain. At times touching, other times humorous, Smith tells his life story and his successes from the beginning, starting in West Philly with an abusive father and the trauma he went through growing up, to his days as a hip hop artist, to a meeting with Quincy Jones who picked him to star in a TV show without ever seeing him act. Part of that success is simply because Will Smith is naturally good at what he does, whatever that may be. But it’s also because once given the chance, Will worked his ass off to be the best.
And when Smith made his transition to movie star, he lets you know just how successful each film he made was. It’s a career filled with a bevy of blockbuster hits, that’s for sure. But my only issue with the book is the humble brag he does for each film. To be that big of a star, you’ve got to have a super sized ego, and it shows from time to time. That’s not to say that Smith isn’t deserving of his success, it’s just that he’s not too modest about it. Sometimes he comes off as arrogant when he says he’s the greatest movie star of all time (I can think of about 50 other actors since the beginning of film making who could stake a claim there), but he does it in a way that doesn’t make you hate him. It just comes off as confidence in one’s abilities, and if you’re strictly talking box office receipts, then yeah, a case could be made that he’s one of the biggest stars ever.
That being said, I loved the book overall. Smith knows how to tell a story, especially his own. He owns up to his own mistakes and fears and what he’s done as a human being to develop and grow. He talks about his relationships truthfully, and I enjoyed reading more about his and Jada Pinkett Smith’s marriage, as well as how he handled some parenting challenges. His foray into his self-help journey and enlightenment was not my bag, but I’m glad that Will is constantly working on self-improvement.
And let’s just say, the fact that Will Smith is an avid reader improved my opinion of him. Some of the books that impacted his life and how he sees the world impacted my own, like The Autobiography of Malcom X (Abebooks) (Amazon), Bhagavad Gita (a book I had to read in college but enjoyed nonetheless 😉 (Abebooks) (Amazon), The Odyssey (another college book) (AbeBooks) (Amazon), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (AbeBooks) (Amazon), Tuesdays with Morrie (Amazon) (Abebooks), and Moby Dick (AbeBooks) (Amazon). It’s an eclectic list, which I also like. It shows that Smith is open to anything.
If you’re a fan of Will Smith, you’ll enjoy this book. If you’re not a fan, you probably will want to pass on this one.
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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