Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith was an American actor and musician who rose to prominence through a famous family, but still managed to cut his own, highly idiosyncratic, sometimes odd, but always compelling path to stardom on his own terms. Born in Malibu, CA, Jaden was the son of Hollywood superstars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, the middle child of the couple's three children (Will had an older son, Trey, from a previous relationship, and Jaden's sister, Willow). Jaden has spoken at length about how being the offspring of two famous parents kept him from having a normal childhood. He attended New Village Leadership Academy, but had difficulties making friends, which lead to him being homeschooled by his parents. When he was just eight years old, Jaden made his acting debut alongside his father in the inspirational drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006). The film was a minor box office success, earning Will Smith his second Best Actor nomination at that year's Academy Awards, and critics were overall impressed with the younger Smith's nascent efforts at acting. Jaden followed up his big screen debut with a small role in the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2010), before taking on his first starring role, alongside martial arts legend Jackie Chan, in a big budget remake of "The Karate Kid" (2010). The film performed well at the box office, debuting at number one on it's opening weekend, but received mixed reviews from critics. In addition, the public was starting to grow weary of the Smith children in the wake of Jaden's acting career and his sister Willow's pop star ambitions, feeling they were the unfair beneficiaries of dynastic largesse. That feeling of ill will was only made worse by Jaden's next project, "After Earth" (2013). The post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller had many strikes against it before it was even released: Will Smith produced the film and was credited with the story idea, which many speculators noticed contained hints of the teachings of Scientology, and once again casting his son alongside him smacked of nepotism. In addition to this, the film was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who was coming off of a string of high profile flops, and the advertising for the film seemingly went out of its way not to mention his name. "After Earth" was a bomb at the box office, and received scathing reviews from critics, many of whom attacked Jaden's performance, labeling it whiny and lacking in charisma. Dismayed from all of the negative press, Jaden decided to put acting on the back burner for awhile. In the meantime, he began working on music; he released a mixtape, "Cool Tape Vol. 2," in 2014. He also broke into fashion, starting a clothing/lifestyle brand called MSFTSrep, and became known for his idiosyncratic, eyebrow-raising, and often gender fluid fashion choices: he attended Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's wedding in an all-white Batman costume, and in 2016 became the first male to model women's wear for Louis Vuitton, showing up in one of their ads adorned in a skirt. His social media presence also became somewhat infamous, and he was roundly mocked for his faux-profound Twitter posts concerning the Illuminati, Chemtrails, and aliens. By this time, however, Jaden was on a path of his own choosing, and as it turned out, that path lead back to acting: he returned to the screen with a recurring role on Baz Luhrmann's series about the birth of hip-hop, "The Get Down" (Netflix, 2016-2017). He followed that up with by voicing a character on "Neo Yokio" (Netflix, 2017-), an anime series created by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, and by appearing on a 2017 episode of the splashy primetime soap opera "Nashville" (ABC/CMT, 2012-2018) as himself. That same year, Jaden released his debut album, "SYRE," receiving generally positive reviews and sales. Jaden could most recently be seen playing a New York City skate rat in the Sundance Festival-approved indie hit "Skate Kitchen" (2018).


Guest Appearances