Why Will Smith Refuses to Think About Racism When Trying to Achieve His Goals

Will Smith has had a career spanning over three decades and is arguably one of the most influential African-American stars around. Although racial prejudices can be pervasive in Hollywood and American society as a whole, Smith has revealed he does not like to think about these issues when trying to achieve his goals.

Will Smith
Will Smith | Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

Will Smith is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood

Smith first gained popularity in the early 1990s on the hit show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and won several awards.

While still on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Smith also began building his reputation as a movie actor with roles in films like Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and Bad Boys (1995). Both of these movies were box office hits and allowed Smith to continue making a name for himself in Hollywood after his TV show ended.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Smith appeared in countless successful movies, such as Men in Black (1997), Enemy of the State (1998), Men in Black II (2002), Bad Boys II (2003), I, Robot (2004), and Hitch (2005).

Smith continues to garner attention and draw audiences into movie theaters. His recent box office hits include Aladdin (2019) and Bad Boys for Life (2020).

Will Smith does not think about racism when trying to achieve his goals

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It is well known that prejudices in the U.S. can make it hard for some people to achieve their goals. However, Smith once admitted that he does not try to think about these issues when trying to reach his dreams.

In an interview with LiveAbout in 2018, Smith discussed his 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness. The movie is based on a true story of a man named Chris Gardner who went from being homeless to having his own stock brokerage firm. Despite Gardner being an African-American man on the streets of San Francisco, Smith noted that Gardner did not talk about racism in his story.

“In the film, there’s no hint to any racism,” Smith said. “That was something specifically that Chris spoke about. He said, ‘Well, sure, there may have been racism but the belief that if you acknowledge it, you give it power over you.’”

Smith seems to agree with this mindset. He added, “You can call it arrogance, you call it naiveté. You call it whatever you want, but I truly believe in a situation where you are hoping to create something, it is a much more powerful space to know that you will not be denied. Whatever’s out there, you’re running over it. So we’re not even going to spend [any] time talking about the white man or, ‘They don’t have no spots left in this college so I’m going to apply somewhere.’ We’re not acknowledging [any] of that. ‘I’m going to that college, period.’”

Will Smith has talked about #BlackLivesMatter and how movies can combat racism

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While Smith tries to not let racial prejudices get in his way, he does not deny that racism exists.

For example, in response to the popular belief that race relations have gotten worse in the U.S., Smith told Stephen Colbert in 2016, “We are talking about race in this country more clearly and openly than we have almost ever in the history of this country. Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

Smith has also talked about his experiences with racism in his hometown of Philadelphia. He shared with political commentator Angela Rye, “I’ve been called n**ger by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions. I got stopped frequently. So I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances with the police.”

Because of these experiences, Smith supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement, saying, “The entire globe has stood up and said to the African American people, ‘We see you and we hear you. How can we help?’ We’ve never been there before.”

As an actor, Smith also recognizes a unique role he plays in helping to decrease racism in the U.S. and around the world.

“Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward,” he said, as reported by ABC News. “What we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds. So when I’m choosing a movie, I understand the global power of being able to send imagery around the world.”