Will – Will Smith

Published By: Century
Pages: 418
Released On: 09/11/2021

One of the most dynamic and globally recognised entertainment forces of our time opens up filly about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the world of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that likely will never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells is astonishingly well. But it is only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way; they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, a beat-selling author, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

*****

I have little to no interest in rap or hip-hop – apart from being able to recite the entire lyrics to Miami of course – and if I’m being honest, to date, I’ve only watched 13 of Will Smith’s 78 credits on IMDB. So you wouldn’t say I am the biggest fan. Nor am I against him. He seems like a lovely man who has all the time in the world for his fans, with an interesting story. Being one of the most famous men in the world, his story has been told for him many times, but it was fascinating to hear it directly from him, and he doesn’t hold back from the harsh realities of his life, now the glory he has gained.

Like every child of the ‘90’s (which I’ve only just been told means I’m old), I was obsessed with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and it just seems like Will Smith has been on top of the world forever, but of course that wasn’t always the way.

There are some bits in this book that run the risk of alienating fans; bits that may seem preachy or like he’s boasting, but as you get to know him more through the pages, he hits the right balance. He deserves his success, both personally and professionally. He’s worked hard for it. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a book that millions of other people are also reading. It feels like you’re sat having a personal chat with him.

It’s honest and engaging, inspiring, positive, fascinating, emotional, hurtful, frustrating, enchanting. It’s early in the year, but I can guarantee this will be on my “favourite books of 2022” list. It is possible one of the best memoirs I’ve ever. It is raw and ultimately beautiful.

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