Willow Smith Has Totally Grown Up, And Here’s What She’s Doing Now

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Willow Smith grew up living the sort of life that most of us can only dream of. As the daughter of global superstar Will Smith, she was practically Hollywood royalty from birth. What’s more, she was even named after him! However, being related to a famous person can be a double-edged sword, and Willow had to work hard to escape her father’s shadow. Here’s a look at how she did it.

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Willow Smith was born in L.A. in October 2000. Her parents are Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, a power couple of the entertainment world. When they first met, Jada was an up-and-coming actress who’d worked with big names such as Eddie Murphy and Spike Lee. Will, on the other hand, was already one of the most famous actors on the planet.

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Willow Camille Reign Smith, to give her her full name, was the third child of Will Smith. Indeed, he already had two sons. His first was Trey, born in 1992 to his first wife Sheree Zampino. And Jaden was born in 1998 to Jada. However, Jada herself never intended to give birth to Jaden and Willow in quick succession in the way that she did.

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In 2000, while pregnant with Willow, Jada gave an interview with Fit Pregnancy in which she revealed Willow was an “oops baby.” “I was starting to wean Jaden, and I’d only had one cycle, so I thought I had some time,” she explained. “Then I got my surprise.” That surprise was a little daughter, of course.

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Regardless of whether her conception had been intentional, Jada and Will Smith clearly loved Willow very much. And they often took her and her brothers to red-carpet events, all dressed up in adorable clothes. What’s more, by the time she was six years old, Willow was already following her father onto the silver screen.

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In fact, little Willow made her acting debut in her father’s 2007 sci-fi flick I Am Legend. She played his character’s daughter, of course. Yet she apparently still had to prove her acting chops before being cast! “We make our kids audition and all of that, we don’t do the whole nepotism thing,” Will Smith told Collider that same year.

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What’s more, Will was very impressed with his daughter’s hard work and commitment on set. By all accounts, she never asked to go home even when the outdoor sets had frozen over. “She just wants it, she has a drive, an energy, and she just connects to human emotion,” he told Collider. Consequently, big things clearly lay ahead for young Willow.

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A couple more movies soon followed. In 2008 Willow appeared with future Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin in Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl. She also started doing voice work alongside her mother in the animated franchise Madagascar. In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, she voiced the younger version of her mom’s character.

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What’s more, it wasn’t long before Willow was using her celebrity to help charitable causes. At the age of eight, she and her brother teamed up with toy company Hasbro for Project Zambi, an AIDS awareness initiative. “It’s so important that we all learn to take care of each other,” Willow said in the press release. “Even from the other side of the world, kids in Africa will know they have friends who care about them.”

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Furthermore, in 2010 Jada announced on Lopez Tonight that Willow had an album in the pipeline. Her first single, “Whip My Hair,” was a huge success, receiving good reviews and going platinum in the U.S. After the release of its follow-up, “21st Century Girl,” the music industry was certainly paying attention.

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What’s more, so were Willow’s fellow starlets. Indeed, in March 2011 Willow fulfilled every young girl’s dream when she toured the U.K. with teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber. She was nervous about the tour, as anyone so young would have been about the prospect of performing in front of thousands. But she still gave it her all.

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Slowly but surely, with each new song she released, Willow established herself as a force to be reckoned with. In fact, when Will and Jaden set out on the promotion circuit for After Earth in 2013, Vulture asked them who the biggest star in the family was. They both said “Willow” without hesitation.

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“She has a magic power in the family. She absolutely demands the most attention. And there’s something really incendiary about a 12-year-old girl who says and does what she wants,” Will added in the interview. And as she continued to grow into her teens, Willow continued to draw the spotlight.

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But the attention focused on young Willow wasn’t always necessarily positive. In 2013, for instance, she released a song which was called “Summer Fling.” This was instantly criticized for being inappropriate. Subsequently, Willow claimed on The Queen Latifah Show that “just for clarity, the word fling means something that’s short lived.”

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Still, that certainly wouldn’t be last time that Willow would court controversy. In 2014, when she was just 13, a photo surfaced on the internet showing her lying in bed with Moises Arias, a 20-year-old actor. Arias – who had posted the picture – quickly took it down, but the damage had already been done.

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By now, Willow was starting to gain a reputation for controversy. What’s more, Will and Jada were starting to have their parenting skills questioned. Nevertheless, they all managed to weather the media storm. “I’m not a conventional parent, which I take a lot of pride in,” Jada told Us Weekly in July 2014. “I don’t just sit with Willow and go, ‘Hey, this is what Mommy thinks.’”

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Regardless of how “conventional” the Smiths were when it came to parenting, Willow seemed to be growing into a good kid – albeit a bit of an odd one. Indeed, in November 2014 she and Jaden gave an interview to the New York Times that was full of philosophical statements about meditation and energy.

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Willow said she’d been reading about quantum physics. She told the interviewer, “I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please. And that’s how I know it doesn’t exist.” Later on she said that one of the themes of her work was, “the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.”

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As a result, some mocked her. Grazia magazine said that the interview was “some of the most bizarre stuff we’ve ever heard from a celeb.” And The Independent called the whole thing “pseudo-intellectual babble.” But people at least had to admit Willow was growing into an intriguing adult.

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Willow released her first album in 2015. It was titled Ardipithecus, and Willow had to explain what that was. She told The Fader, “Ardipithecus ramidus is the scientific name of the first hominid bones found on Earth. I wanted to name my musical compilation after it because while I was making these songs I was in such a transitional state.”

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Furthermore, in 2016 Willow netted another dream job, when she became an ambassador for the Chanel brand. Willow even claimed that her appointment might empower other young women. “It’s not every day that a 15-year-old black girl with dreads gets elected to be the Chanel ambassador,” she told The Telegraph.

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“I know a lot of girls that look like me feel that they’re not beautiful and feel like they don’t have a place in the media or a place in the world,” she added. “I want them to know that’s not true.” Willow seemed to be believe that her true calling was encouraging diversity in society and inspiring young girls to be true to themselves.

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And what’s more, when 2017 rolled around Willow found herself with plenty of projects in the pipeline. On October 31 of that year – the day she turned 17 years old – Willow released her second album, the somewhat confusingly titled The 1st. It received a number of positive reviews from music critics.

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That year Willow chatted to Rolling Stone about how her music career was going. Asked to describe her “musical journey” she said, “When I was younger, I loved to sing all the time. My parents would always tell me, ‘We really should do some piano lessons,’ since I was already doing singing lessons. They would always tell me [to learn an instrument] so through my younger years I rejected that idea because it was so potently put onto me.”

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In November 2017 Willow gave a revealing interview to Girlgaze magazine. She appeared on the cover with a more adult look, wearing brightly colored makeup. But some of the things she said were a little sad. She informed the magazine, “Growing up and trying to figure out your life while people feel like they have some sort of entitlement to know what’s going on, is absolutely, excruciatingly terrible.”

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Willow said, “You can’t change your face. You can’t change your parents. You can’t change any of those things. So I feel like most kids like me end up going down a spiral of depression, and the world is sitting there looking at them through their phones. Laughing and making jokes and making memes at the crippling effect that this lifestyle has on the psyche.”

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And that wasn’t all. Willow went on, “When you’re born into it, there are two choices that you have. I’m either going to try to go into it completely and help from the inside, or… no one is going to know where I am… and I’m really going to take myself completely out of the eye of society. There’s really no in-between.”

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And in 2018 Willow made a distressing revelation about how she had learned to cope. She did this on the Facebook show Red Table Talk. The show is hosted by herself, her mother Jada and her grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Jones. Throughout, the three women sit at the titular table and discuss important issues.

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Willow said that at one point things had gotten so bad for her she’d started self-harming. She explained to her family members, “It was after that whole ‘Whip My Hair’ thing and I had just stopped doing singing lessons and I was kind of just in this gray area of, ‘Who am I? Do I have a purpose? Is there anything I can do besides this?’”

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Willow continued on, “And after all of that kinda settled down and it was like a kind of lull, I was just listening to a lot of dark music. It was just so crazy and I was plunged into this black hole, and I was cutting myself.” Her mother Jada was horrified, as this was the first she had heard about any of it.

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Willow said she thought she had, “totally lost my sanity for a moment there. I never talk about it because it was such a short weird point in my life. But you have to pull yourself out of it. I honestly felt like I was experiencing so much emotional pain, but my physical circumstances weren’t reflecting that.”

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Many people praised Willow for being brave enough to talk about her mental health on camera. And after that, it seemed things had improved for her. In June 2019 she released a new album, titled Willow. She toured across America to promote it, stopping off in big cities such as New York and L.A.

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And in that same year Willow went on to talk about her bisexuality on Red Table Talk. The episode in question was discussing “unconventional relationships” and the concept of polyamory. Willow told her mother, “I love men and women equally and so I would definitely want one man, one woman.”

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Willow went on, “I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people. I’m not the kind of person that is constantly looking for new sexual experiences. I focus a lot on the emotional connection and I feel like if I were to find two people of the different genders that I really connected with and we had a romantic and sexual connection, I don’t feel like I would feel the need to try to go find more.”

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In fact, Willow preferred polyamory to monogamy. “This is the scariest thought that people shy away from, it’s the feeling of feeling like the person that you love is falling in love with somebody else… Monogamy, I feel, actually inhibits you from learning those skills of evolving past those feelings of insecurity and jealousy,” she said. Her mother told her, “Whatever makes you happy.”

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Quite a few interesting revelations came out about the Smith family during episodes of Red Table Talk. For example, in another 2019 episode of the show it came out that Willow had started watching pornography at the young age of 11. Her mother, it turn out, had had to put a swift stop to it.

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During that episode, Willow praised her parents for helping her at that age. She told Jada, “The thing that I will say though is that because I had you and daddy to actually have real conversations with, that stuff didn’t affect me because I had a connection with people I could talk to about it. And I knew what the reality was.”

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In an October 2019 interview with Vogue Italia, Willow seemed to have come to terms with her fame. In fact, it seemed that she’d worked out how to use it. She told the magazine, “There’s no point to having all of these resources and all of these eyes on you if you are not expressing and addressing the real problems in our world.”

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Willow said that both she and her brother Jaden “want to do whatever we can do to help.” She continued, “The gratitude I feel is for the chance we’ve been given to participate. And that’s just as much down to the goodness of the people who are listening as to the platform we’ve been given.”

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So the world might be seeing even more of Willow Smith soon, especially since she and Jaden will be going on tour towards the end of 2019. She’s packed more into her 18 years than most people have packed into their whole lives. And hopefully it’ll be a long time before her star fades.

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