When Will Smith met Jada Pinkett, he was the star of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – a comedy series about a street-smart youth from West Philadelphia, who is sent by his mother to live with his aunt and uncle in upmarket Bel Air after getting into a fight.
His character, called Will Smith, was a fictional version of himself. In the series, which ran from 1990 to 1996, his lifestyle choices and attitude frequently clashed with the beliefs of his wealthy aunt and uncle, with comedic results.
Smith, aged 27, had been starring in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air for five years when 24-year-old Pinkett auditioned for the role of his character’s onscreen girlfriend, Lisa.
At just 5ft tall, she is considerably shorter than 6ft 2ins Will. Producers felt this would be a problem onscreen – and ironically, they also reportedly cited a “lack of chemistry” between the two actors. The role of Lisa went to the more statuesque Nia Long instead, who was 5ft 8ins tall.
However, Smith and Pinkett stayed in touch after meeting on set and they began dating. Their real-life romance blossomed, and they married in 1997, in a secret ceremony on New Year’s Eve at Baltimore’s Cloisters Mansion. Will was 29 and Jada 26.
The couple have continued their successful careers, with Will having won a multitude of awards, including six American Music Awards between 1999 and 2005, four Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards, the Hollywood Film Award for best actor for Concussion in 2015, the MTV Movie Award for best male performance for Ali in 2002 and many more.
Jada co-starred opposite Eddie Murphy in the hit film, The Nutty Professor, in 1996, which earned $25 million at the box office during its first weekend. She also starred as the rebel, Niobe, in the cult sci-fi movies, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003.
Also starring in Fox’s crime drama, Gotham, as a gangster called Fish Mooney, from 2014 to 2016, Jada has additionally enjoyed a successful singing career since 2002, under the stage name, Jada Koren, citing her inspirations as Metallica and Guns N’ Roses.
As well as their hugely successful entertainment careers, Will and Jada have founded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, with the proceeds benefiting inner-city community development, youth education projects and underprivileged families.
The couple live on a ranch near Malibu, California, and have two children together: Jaden, aged 20, who has a successful career as an actor, rapper and singer, and Willow Smith, 17, who is a singer, actress and dancer. Will also has a son, Trey, 25, from his previous marriage to Sheree Zampino.
As a family of animal lovers, they also share their Malibu ranch with four pet Rottweilers.
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