Will Smith had a certain energy that he brought to his marriage and raising his children that he said made them “miserable.” During a 2020 interview, Smith shared how his upbringing contributed to that energy and how his daughter, Willow Smith, taught him a huge lesson.
Will Smith shared how his dad’s harsh words impacted his life
During an appearance on HBO Sport’s The Shop Uninterrupted, Will Smith shared how his dad had lashed out at him as a kid — and how that upbringing impacted him.
Smith recalled that his dad had sent him to the store to buy cigarettes and when he lost track of time instead of bringing the cigarettes home, his dad lit into him.
Smith said, “And I see my father walking up the middle of the street with no shirt on … he come walking up the street with no shirt” and Smith knew he was in trouble. “He said, ‘Where my cigarettes?’” and the actor came up with an excuse.
His father wasn’t having it, however. “He said, ‘When I send you to do something, there’s two possibilities — one, you complete the mission or two, you dead.’”
Smith said he carried that ‘mentality’ into his adult life
That exchange with his father became part of Smith’s mentality moving forward in both his career and personal life.
“So that was the mentality that I came into this game with … so it’s two options: the movie’s number one or I’m dead,” he explained.
“And, you know, for a good 15 years of my life I just torched my family with that energy,” Smith admitted. “Because a part of what I wanted was not just me — I wanted my kids to do that, I needed my wife to do that, and just my family was miserable.”
Willow Smith taught him a lesson
When asked if his family pulled Smith out of that way of thinking, he said it was his daughter Willow who showed him the light.
“Yeah, Willow got me … Willow hit me hard,” he said, explaining how she opened his eyes when she was doing the ‘Whip My Hair’ tour.
Smith shared how he was impressed with his daughter’s accomplishment at such a young age, saying, “I was the man. So she’s 9 years old, with a top 10 single … and before that, only Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder had done it at that age.”
“So I’m like, ‘I’m parenting the hell out these kids. What do I don’t do?,'” Smith said.
Willow was opening on the Justin Bieber tour in Dublin and he said when she came off stage, she told him, “Daddy, I’m ready to go home.”
“I was like, ‘No baby, you can’t go home, you gotta finish the tour.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah daddy, I’m finished,'” he recalled.
“But you can’t be finished … you promised Mr. Jay-Z that you were gonna do the 30 days,” Smith continued. “And she was like, ‘No daddy, you promised Mr. Jay-Z.’”
When Willow shaved her head that night, he said, it was all he needed to learn a huge lesson.
“She comes down that morning and she had shaved her head bald … in the middle of her ‘Whip my Hair’ tour,” Smith explained.
“Yo man, I was like, ‘Wow!,’ And she taught me such a valuable lesson,” he said. “I was like, ‘Baby I got it. We can go home.’”