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The Untold Story of Jaden Smith

Penelope Hart

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Scott Legato / Contributor via Getty Images

Jaden Smith was born into a massively famous family in Hollywood, but, not everything in his life has gone according to plan. From thriving in the spotlight to dodging it, here's Jaden's story of being a Smith.

Jaden Was Destined for the Spotlight  

When Will Smith laid eyes on Jada Pinkett in 1994 on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's set, he immediately knew she was his soul mate. Although her audition was deemed unsuccessful, it didn't stop Will from following his heart.

Will Jada Smith Married
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After his then-wife filed for divorce, Will rang up Jada, and the rest was history. They dated for a short while before Jada found out she was pregnant. "I was like, 'What am I gonna do now?'" she recalled. On New Year's Eve in 1997, Will and Jada became the Smiths. But, they had no idea the force their name would soon hold.

The Smiths Expanded 

In what must have felt like a whirlwind of events, the newlyweds welcomed their first child together before they knew it. Jaden Christopher Syre Smith was born on July 8th, 1998, in Malibu, California. At birth, Jaden already had a half-brother, Trey, from Will's previous marriage.

Will Jada Jaden Smith
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"It took me 20 minutes to [deliver him]," Jada recalled of Jaden's birth. "My mother's a nurse, and she was in there with me, and she was amazed!" she continued. Two short years later, the proud parents welcomed their second child, a daughter named Willow. Little did they know that their kids would soon grow into stars.

An Early Start in Hollywood 

Will stood by his son's side as he stepped into Hollywood for the first time. In 2006, the two acted as a father-son duo in The Pursuit of Happyness. Not only was this experience special to the Smiths, but when Jaden won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 2007 MTV movie awards, it was clear the industry felt the same. 

Pursuit of Happyness Smith
Toni Anne Barson Archive via Getty Images

A few years and countless hours of training later, Jaden landed the starring role in 2010's Karate Kid with Jackie Chan. Then, returning to familiar waters three years after, the Smith boys starred in After Earth as yet another father-son team. Jaden was soaring through Hollywood but began to struggle in everyday life as a kid. 

Isolated From “Normal” Childhood 

Jaden didn't grow up with playdates like other kids his age. Instead, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jim Carrey and Tom Cruise. "I didn't always get to hang out with normal people when I was young. So being older and being able to hang out with the big kids and play with normal people is fun," he admitted to Dazed.

Isolated Childhood Jaden Smith
Scott Gries via Getty Images

Not only was this hard for him as a growing young adult, but the lack of practice interacting with others his age began to show. "People treat me like I'm not a normal human so much, that you start to believe [it], like, 'Am I not a normal human?'" he admitted to Dazed years later. So, Jaden's only option was to turn to family.

The Smith Circle of Safety 

Thus, Jada and Will created the Smith Circle of Safety. Dun dun DUN! As they explain it: As long as Jaden and the rest of the kids admit to any wrongdoings they've done in the past, they won't be punished. However, there would be "H*ll to pay" if they were ever to find out that any of their children withheld information. 

Smith Circle of Safety
Lester Cohen via Getty Images

"We generally don't believe in punishment," Will said. "From the time Jaden was five or six, we would sit him down, and all he has to do is be able to explain why what he did was the right thing for his life," Smith told The Herald Sun. Jaden did have a secret he was keeping, but he had to find the right time to admit it. 

He Received Unique Education 

When Jaden first started school, he attended New Village Leadership Academy. The elementary school was located in Calabasas, California. And, as it turned out, its operations were conveniently funded by the Smith family. This became a struggle for Jaden, as freedom was hard to find at the time.

Jaden Smith Leadership Academy
Jason Merritt via Getty Images

NVLA's scholarly methods included a Montessori-style education. According to the L.A. Times, classes consisted of karate, yoga, robotics, technology, etiquette, math, literacy, Spanish, art, and living skills. After Jaden completely lost interest, the school closed in 2013. This led him to begin homeschooling with his parents.

He Turned Away From School

Amidst his transition from a student-filled classroom to attending school within the walls of his own home, Jaden began to resent education. "School is the tool to brainwash the youth," he tweeted in 2013. Living and being taught by his parents was beginning to be too much for the young boy.

Jaden Smith Homeschooled Twitter
Instagram via @c.syresmith

This statement was soon followed by "If everybody in the world dropped out of school, we would have a much more intelligent society." ABC News then reported countless examples of young outraged parents blaming Jaden for why their kids don't want to attend school. Clearly, Smith was frustrated, but where was this all coming from?

Jaden Went Vegetarian 

Jaden couldn't necessarily control things when it came to his education, but he could control what he was putting into his body. First, Smith became vegetarian. This felt like a good life shift, but soon he switched to vegan. But, after seeing Jaden's skin mysteriously turn gray, Jada and Will staged an intervention.

Jaden Vegetarian Celiac Disease
Instagram via @c.syresmith

His parents were concerned about this accelerated decline in Jaden's health, so Jada felt it was important to lay all cards on the table. "He just looked drained. He was depleted, he wasn't getting the nutrients," she said on Red Table Talk. As it turned out, Jaden was soon diagnosed with lactose intolerance and celiac disease.

Jaden Left Acting Behind 

Smith was growing frustrated. He wasn't doing what felt right for him at the time. Homeschooling and staged interventions weren't necessarily his ideal upbringing. So, after trickling into music and creating his debut mixtape, The Cool Cafe, and its sequel, Cool Tape Vol. 2, Smith took a break from acting to focus on music. 

Jaden Smith Leaves Acting
Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images

"The kinds of roles I was being offered weren't exactly what I was looking for," Jaden told USA Today. "Nothing felt really necessary that I needed to be in until [Skate Kitchen] came along," he continued. Smith couldn't seem to find his path. First, he tried out acting, then music. But he didn't know if that even felt right. 

The Start of Smith's Music Career 

Jaden had previously been featured in Justin Bieber's song, Never Say Never, in 2010. The song immediately peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and quickly became certified 5x platinum in the United States. Smith was beginning to see his own potential and leaned further into exploring his musical abilities. 

Music Career Jaden Smith
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Four years and two mixtapes later, Smith was back in the studio again. In 2014, he graduated from mixtape to studio album and became the star of the show. Roles had reversed, and he was inviting features to his creation. Jaden's debut studio album was finally in the works, but it would take him three years to complete.

Syre's Release 

Years had gone by, and all was quiet in Jaden's realm. That is until his studio album's lead single, Fallen, was released in 2016. Throughout the following year, he released three more singles, BatmanWatch Me, and Falcon. The album, Syre, was released in late 2017 and debuted at number 24 on the Billboard 200!

Syre Release Jaden Smith
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The very same day that Syre was released, Smith dropped yet another creation. Icon reached number three on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. It was official; Jaden felt that he had made it in the music industry. Well, until his dad stole the spotlight by making a spoof of Icon's music video, which quickly went viral.

Jaden’s First Live Performance 

After some more musical releases and exponential growth into the name he was creating for himself, Jaden got some big news. In 2018, it was announced that he would be the opener for J. Cole’s KOD tour alongside Young Thug and Earthgang. In the blink of an eye, Smith publically performed for the first time at the 2018 Lollapalooza.

Live Performance Jaden Smith
Scott Legato / Contributor via Getty Images

2018 was a big year for Jaden. He was still a young man growing into his own, and his music was skyrocketing to the top of the charts and trending on the radio. But, when the opportunity arose for him to reenter the big-screen world of red carpets once more, he reluctantly said yes. But only for a specific group of girls.

He Returned To the Big Screen

Two years before they took over the screen together, Jaden followed skater Rachelle Vinberg, co-founder of an all-girls skate crew, on Instagram. According to USA Today, when preparing to film Skate Kitchen (named after the group), writer/director Crystal Moselle asked Vinberg if she knew of any actors who could skate. 

Skate Kitchen Jaden Smith
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"I was blown away by the things [Vinberg] was posting," Jaden told USA Today. "I wasn't really good at skating and was just like, 'She'd leave me in the dust!'" he continued. But, as it turned out, Smith's skills fit in just fine once he got on his board. Thus, filming for Skate Kitchen began. 

Jaden Became Part of the Crew

Throughout the movie's filming and production, Jaden became very close with the girls' group. Not only had they become friends, but he even admitted to Highsnobiety Magazine that the ladies taught him more about skating than he had ever known before! 

Skate Kitchen Jaden Smith
Noam Galai / Contributor via Getty Images

In Skate Kitchen, Smith played Devon, an aspiring photographer who spent a lot of time late-night skating with Camille, played by Rachelle Vinberg, in Manhattan. After mentioning not feeling called to any big screen titles, starring in a movie that combined his love for photography and skating was exactly what he wanted.

Smith's Influencers 

According to Highsnobiety Magazine, Jaden credits much of his inspiration in music and style to his influencers. Names that have gained this honor include Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Kurt Cobain, and Tycho. Last but certainly not least, also on the list is, of course, his dad.

Will Smith Jaden Smith
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"[Will Smith] started in music and transitioned to movies. I started with movies, and then I transitioned into making music," Jaden explained. "I look at him and use it as a blueprint of how good of a person he is, but not necessarily the success that he reached."

Jaden's “in a League of His Own” 

Although Jaden's list of inspirations is extensive, the ball has undoubtedly bounced into his court to become an inspiration to others too. GQ described Jaden as being in his very own league when it comes to fashion. Evidently, this star takes style to a whole new level.

Jaden Smith GQ League
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Smith credits his unique sense of style to Kid Cudi and Tyler the Creator when talking about fashion. Jaden once told Paper Magazine, "I think clothes can really excite people...I'm just trying to catch the vibes." And based on his closet, he's certainly caught them!

"[Do] Something No One Else Would Do” 

When it comes to fashion, Jaden has proved that he's not afraid to make a statement. The young music star sparked attention in 2016 when he became the first male to model women's wear for Louis Vuitton. He took over the runway in a skirt because "There's no bigger flex than doing something no one else would do," he said.

Louis Vuitton Jaden Smith
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Contributor via Getty Images

Smith explained his clothing choice as an attempt to combat bullying. "In five years, when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won't get beat up and kids won't get mad at him," Jaden said. He's made it clear that he's not afraid to stand up for himself and others.

Jaden Is "Taking the Fire"

"I hope that people can see me and say, 'He's under a bunch of fire for wearing a skirt...Now that everybody's talking about him, I can be behind the scenes and do what I need to do,'" Jaden told Highsnobiety. "Jaden's taking the fire. So I can stand behind him and not be burned by the fire of the world," he continued.

Jaden Smith Louis Vuitton
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Contributor via Getty Images

With this selfless mindset geared towards spreading acceptance, it's clear that Jaden was raised with essential values at home. He explained to Desus & Metro, "[My parents] have taught me a lot of things and told me very seriously of ways to hold yourself in public and around other people in general."

He Wants To Teach Others To Be Comfortable

In an interview with Nylon, Smith stated, "The world is going to keep bashing me for whatever I do, and I'm going to keep not caring." Clearly, he was doing his very best to let the negativity roll off his back. "I just want to teach people how to be comfortable, stop being so scared," he told GQ

Jaden Smith Bullying Scared
Albert L. Ortega / Contributor via Getty Images

We've thought it, and he's said it: Jaden is not afraid to make a ripple. "I'm going to keep doing more things…I'm taking the brunt of it so that later on, my kids and the next generations of kids will all think that certain things are normal that weren't expected before my time," Smith told Nylon.

Collab With G-Star RAW 

In the fall of 2018, Jaden partnered with G-Star RAW and its "Head of Imagination" Pharrell Williams to create a sustainable denim collection to take his style to the next level. "I was first brought into G-Star by Pharrell, someone who I respect and admire," Jaden explained to Highsnobiety

G-Star Raw Jaden Smith
picture alliance / Contributor via Getty Images

"What they have been doing with sustainable innovation recently has been so inspiring, especially with the launch of their most sustainable jeans ever," he said. "G-Star is a great place for me to collaborate, learn, and make a positive impact on denim and fashion," Smith continued. But, this wasn't all he was up to at the time.

The Release of Erys 

2019 Brought Jaden's second studio album, Erys. The album's lead single was titled Again and was an exciting addition to his already successful collection of accomplishments. Not only was Jaden on the upward spiral of creation, but he was finally able to share it with the world.

Jaden Smith Erys Release
Paras Griffin / Contributor via Getty Images

Smith described his new album as a "Strict, hard rap album" to radio DJ Zane Lowe. "The people have spoken on what they like from me, so I try to come really, really hard," he shared during an interview. Smith made it clear that he was doing what he could to put his own spin on his music, hoping to please fans.

An Unexpected Request

At this point, Jaden appeared happy with his success, but that wasn't always the case. Let's rewind to when we mentioned that Jaden had kept a secret from the Smith Circle of Safety. If it seemed that he'd been a solo star for some time now, that's because something significant happened back in 2013.

Emancipation Jaden Smith Birthday
Instagram via @c.syresmith

During his 15th birthday on July 8th, 2013, Jaden went to Will and Jada asking for the "Best birthday gift" he could think of. It was the only thing he wanted. As Jada recalls, "It was probably one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life." But, what had her son asked for that was so heartbreaking?

Asking for Emancipation 

At the age of 15, Jaden asked his parents for emancipation. In his mind, the best possible gift would be his freedom, something that most parents would be devastated to hear. But why, exactly, did the teenager feel so strongly about moving out of his parents' house so young?

Jaden Smith Emancipation
Instagram via @c.syresmith

"See, here's the thing," said Jaden. "I'm not going anywhere. The thing that people don't get is everything at this house is free." So, he prepared to go ahead with the paperwork and move into a house of his own. But what did Will and Jada have to say about this?

Jada Was Devastated

Hearing her son say that he wanted to be emancipated at age 15 certainly wasn't easy for Jada, understandably so. "At 15-years-old, Jaden, and I remember this day specifically," Jada revealed on Red Table Talk of Jaden's decision. However, she was willing to hear him out.

Jada Pinkett Smith Emancipation
Facebook via Red Table Talk

"You got to a point where you told me straight up, you were like, 'Mom, I have to leave here to live my life,'" Jada continued. However, she didn't shut her son down. "I remember thinking to myself, as devastated as I was, I was like, 'He's right.' The time is now... It's time for him to leave the house."

Getting Mom's Approval

"I knew the sooner I let him go, the faster he was going to come back," Jada said. After many long and difficult conversations, Jaden's parents agreed. "Every child needs something different," Jada shared. "Being in this lifestyle, in this world is a bubble, and he wanted out."

Jada, Jaden, Emancipation Reaction
Getty Images via Dominik Bindl

Although he had gotten the green light, Smith never filed the paperwork. It actually wasn't until 2017 that Jaden finally moved out of the Malibu house like he said he wanted to. He moved into his very own $4 million home in Hidden Hills, just a short distance from where he'd grown up.

He Wants People To Trust More

During an interview with Highsnobiety Magazine, Jaden listed off some of his greatest dreams for the world. "I hope to see people start to trust their vision more and to go full speed towards what they want in their life," he said. It became more apparent as Smith matured that he has high hopes for society.

Positive Change Jaden Smith
Instagram via @c.syresmith

He had learned firsthand that independence was a tricky game to play but wanted the message to ring clear. "Go and grasp what [you] want instead of just sitting back," he concluded. It was evident that Jaden believed this mindset could start society on a new path. He was doing everything he could to encourage positive change.

He Shows That He Cares

After a few years of reflection, Jaden turned the difficult experience of his parents' intervention into a positive one. He started a mobile restaurant providing free vegan dinners to the homeless. According to vegnews.com, the truck served the homeless community of the Skid Row region of Los Angeles.

I Love You Restaurant
Instagram via @iloveyourestaurant

This action was part of the "I Love You Restaurant" movement. The initiative is geared toward giving people what they deserve: Healthy, vegan food for free. Smith posted on Instagram, "Today, we launched our first one-day food truck pop-up in Downtown LA. Keep a lookout because this is the first one of many."

Smith Is Already a Philanthropist 

But, that wasn't the first time young Smith did something to help out the community. In fact, when he was just 12-years-old, he became a partner in the spring water company, Just Water. After countless hours of work and logistics, Just Water launched in the U.K. in 2018.

Just Water Jaden Smith
Instagram via @c.syresmith

"Just Water is attempting to create a water filtration system that's cheap and can be used in poorer areas and nations," Jaden told Kid Cudi during an interview for V-Man Magazine. The brand "wants to later help with water infrastructure and creating more environmentally friendly construction methods by producing its own drywall."

Life in a Year with Cara Delevigne 

As if philanthropy, clothing, and music endeavors weren't enough for the young star, Jaden reentered the Hollywood scene yet again. After Skate Kitchen, he starred alongside Cara Delevigne in Life in a Year. The production is an Amazon Prime flick that was released in late 2020.   

Jaden Smith Cara Delevigne
Michael Kovac / Contributor via Getty Images

Per IMDb, the movie "Follows 17-year-old Daryn who finds out that his girlfriend is dying. He sets out to give her an entire life in the last year she has left." After their on-screen romance, the two even sparked dating rumors by spending this Valentine's Day together. But, they later confirmed their date was strictly platonic. 

From 'Never Say Never' To 'Falling For You'

Besides his work with Delevigne, Smith teamed up with an old pal, Justin Bieber, to record another banger. The song Falling for You is the second on the new album. Not only did this bring the two artists full circle, but based on their interactions, it brought their friendship closer as well!

Justin Bieber Jaden Smith
Kevin Mazur / Contributor via Getty Images

The dynamic duo also met up to shoot the music video for Jaden's new song, Photograph. The song is the 11th track on his final album in the CTV trilogy; Its video is full of Jaden doing his thing on the beach at sunset. This all geared Smith up for his big CTV3 release.

The Release of 'Cool Tape Volume 3'

In late July of 2020, Jaden released the single Cabin Fever from his third studio album, CTV3: Cool Tape Volume 3. According to hotnewhiphop, Smith described it as the third edition of his previous Cool Tapes, saying the track essentially completes Syre and Erys, ending it with a bang.

Jaden Smith CTV3
Instagram via @c.syresmith

According to Apple Music, the bold, exciting, and eccentric album doesn't just include Jaden and Bieber's Falling for You. It also has a second featured track titled Endless Summer, where Smith is joined by Raury. And based on comments on Jaden's social media accounts, fans can't help but shower love on the tracks!

Pushing Boundaries With MSFTSrep

In yet another expressive clothing expedition, Jaden has been striving to find a way to convey himself that feels as free-spirited yet funky as he is. That's why he (and his sis, Willow) teamed up with MSFTSrep, what he refers to as "An organized rebellion within the youth."

MSFTS Jaden Smith Clothing
Instagram via @msftsrep

Per the MSFTS website, the intention is "Creating a world where free-flowing expression, personal growth, and individuality are encouraged and celebrated." Jaden has visibly overcome hardships of high levels in his life, but from what we can see, he's figured out how to navigate his place in the spotlight with resilience.