The world was always going to know who Willow Smith was because of her famous parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. But rather than ride on the coattails of her parents’ fame, she wanted to create her own path. She got her start in the biz early, and, at 10 years old, she enjoyed the success of her first single, "Whip My Hair."
Willow Smith has continued to pursue her musical aspirations since then, but her development has never been limited to her career. She dabbles in many artistic endeavors, explores various ways to give back, and always manages to find a way to use her platform to empower others, particularly young girls. She’s supremely self aware for someone her age — it’s clear that she is wise beyond her years. No matter your age, you will find something to learn from Willow Smith. Here are all the ways she has transformed from a Hollywood child to a talented and insightful young woman.
Growing up in the spotlight was "absolutely, excruciatingly terrible" for Willow Smith
Growing up with famous parents was not something Willow Smith wanted, nor was it something that she found easy. She shared her thoughts on the topic in an interview with Girl Gaze (via People). "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 — and the only way to get over it, is to go into it," she said.
She also feels as though this toxic environment can take its toll on mental health, saying, "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." She stated that when you’re born into celebrity, you only have two choices: Embrace that world completely and try to "help from the inside," or totally vanish from the spotlight. She said, "There’s really no in-between."
In the future, Willow Smith sees herself "in the mountains somewhere cooking a squirrel"
Living in the public eye has its challenges, and Willow Smith has revealed just how much she longs to escape it. So it makes sense that she has big plans for her future, and they don’t involve being famous. The Voice coach Pharrell Williams chatted with Smith and her brother Jaden for Interview magazine in 2016, and, when asked where the siblings see themselves in ten years, Jaden responded with "gone," a thought his sister echoed. She explained, "I feel that. I see myself in the mountains somewhere in a tent cooking a squirrel."
After going back and forth with her brother about eating squirrel (because he was shocked), Willow Smith revealed that living away from the city life and becoming at home in nature is something her heart desires. She said, "I want to retreat back to living off the land and just being in nature, experiencing life in the most pure, natural way possible."
If you don’t feel beautiful, Willow Smith has something to say to you
Whether she asked for it or not, Willow Smith’s parents’ fame gave her a platform, and she could either ignore it or embrace it. She chose to do the latter and has been using her voice and image as a powerful tool to inspire young women.
When Smith was 15, she was invited by French fashion house Chanel to be one of their ambassadors. It’s a role that Smith took seriously because, even back then, she understood that "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 she realizes the importance of being a role model for those who are not represented by the media.
"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 said. "I want them to know that’s not true, and if you’re confident and you love yourself then everything you see, your perception, will start to change and you’ll see things differently."
Willow Smith is anxiety-ridden, like many others in Gen Z
Don’t confuse Willow Smith for a millennial, because she is from Generation Z and proud of it. This is the generation of kids who were born post-1995, and, according to HuffPost, they make up 25.9 percent of the United States population. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be part of this generation, Smith has the answers — and, according to her, it has its downsides.
In an interview with Girl Gaze (via Entertainment Tonight), she agreed with the general consensus that she and the other post-millennials are part of the most anxious generation. Some may think this anxiety is linked to a technological obsession, but Smith noted that it’s not quite as simple as that. She agreed that having access to any information at any time has repercussions: "We look on our phones and we see people dying right next to us and we’re sitting there about to go get a latte — it breaks you down." But she elaborated, "It’s not just the phones. The phones are just a tool. The phones just heighten what was already happening."
Marriage and kids? Willow Smith says no thanks
The idea that girls should like pink and boys should like blue is outdated, and Willow Smith chose to remind everyone of this in an interview with Refinery29. She said, "I’m a black female in the 21st century. My favorite color isn’t pink; it’s black."
That’s not the only thing that she feels sets her apart from the norm, and her progressive approach on this topic is refreshing. She said, "I’m not obsessed with getting married or having kids. Gender norms put people in boxes and don’t allow them to really get to their full potential as a human being. Slowly but surely, dudes are starting to wear nail polish and become more in tune with their feelings. Change is happening, and it’s very exciting." She credited her open-minded and out-of-the-box perspective to her mom, Jada Pinkett Smith, explaining, "When she was younger, she was all about reforming the paradigms."
Willow Smith: "Damn. I’m really a woman"
There is nothing average about Willow Smith — she has a unique approach to the world. She knows this and embraces it, and she made sure the world knows as well in an interview with The Fader.
"I’ve just been doing so much growing up, I’m really just becoming a woman. Damn. I’m really a woman," she said. "Seeing how my thought processes have changed over the years and how my observations get keener. Everything is getting more clear but also I’m starting to see the spectrum of life in such a new way. It’s so grey and uncomfortable and joyous. It’s the first time I’m seeing life and experiencing relating to human beings in a completely different way."
As she grew into her later teen years, she told The Fader that she started to understand the difference between authenticity and image management on social media. She noted that there’s often a discrepancy between the words we say ("I love you") and our actions. Although still a teen, Smith had spent a lot of time philosophizing about deep subjects like love and identity.
Willow Smith is ridiculously wise beyond her years when it comes to love
Willow Smith thinks a lot about love and relationships. Her approach to love is interesting, as she believes in giving your partner complete and utter freedom. She explained to The Fader that letting your insecurities take over can ruin any relationship, "not only in romantic love, that’s in friendships and everything." She explained how insecurities can make you act in a way that isn’t out of love, but rather out of fear: "As much as we want to hold on to these people, love and relationships you have to enjoy and release."
Smith went on to explain how holding on too tightly can harm relationships. She said, "Let things go where they need to go. Don’t hold on because when you hold on you kill love." She applies this to labeling a relationship as well, explaining, "As soon as you say, ‘This is mine,’ or ‘This is my boyfriend’ or ‘This is my girlfriend,’ you’ve massacred your real relationships." How can someone so young can be so wise beyond their years?!
Willow Smith was beyond excited for her 2016 Teen Vogue shoot for one big reason
When Willow Smith turned up for a 2016 interview with Teen Vogue, she did so wearing a cropped t-shirt with the statement, "Never underestimate the power of a woman." And truer words have never been written, at least in the opinion of Smith, who is passionate about women supporting each other.
She explained that her shoot for the publication was special because it was the first time that she had been shot by a female photographer, Emma Summerton. Upon meeting each other, the publication notes how Smith reacted with excitement and stated, "This is so cool. I’ve never been shot by a woman before — not for anything this major! There is such a need for more female photographers, physicists, astronauts, doctors." Teen Vogue noted, unsurprisingly, that Smith’s favorite topic of conversation is how the tide is turning in many spaces where young women and people of color are underrepresented.
Willow Smith uses her celeb status (and amazing wardrobe) to help others
Willow Smith may have had the privileges that most don’t, but she tries to use her elevated status to help others as much as possible. The singer and her famous family did their bit to help ease the suffering of others when they handed over about 300 items from their wardrobe to The RealReal in October 2017, with all proceeds donated to hurricane relief through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith lead an insanely glamorous life, and it seems they’re well aware of just how fortunate they’ve been
According to E! News, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, along with their children Jaden and Willow Smith, had their clothing sold on The RealReal‘s website. As for what was for sale? While her family sold slippers, sports coats, and cowboy boots, Willow Smith’s contribution reportedly ranged from bomber jackets to sneakers, with pieces including her Adidas x Rita Ora Lightweight Hooded Jacket and her Opening Ceremony Wool Varsity Jacket.
Willow Smith’s not too comfortable with logic and science
Willow Smith’s long term goal may be to become self-sufficient and live away from civilization but there’s a more immediate ambition which she wants to achieve first: exploring her understanding of music through a completely different perspective.
"I want to rocket my knowledge and intelligence about specifically the science of music," Smith told Rolling Stone in a 2017 interview. The art of music is something Smith feels she totally gets, but the science behind music is a completely different story — it’s not an area where she feels totally comfortable. "I’m such a right-brained person that coming at me with logic rooted in creativity takes time for me to get comfortable with that and understand the logistics of my creativity."
The emotional turmoil behind Willow Smith’s shaved head
In an interview with People, Willow Smith revealed that shaving her head back in 2012 "was the perfect way to rebel." She’d realized that being a pop star was "not the life" she wanted and, well, you can’t whip your hair back and forth if you don’t have hair, right?
Sadly, cutting her hair did not provide the relief she was seeking. Smith then started down a path of self-harm, looking for a "physical release of all the intangible pain that’s happening in your heart and in your mind." But, as she began reading up on science and spirituality, Smith had an epiphany of sorts. "I was like, ‘This is pointless — my body is a temple,’ and I completely stopped," she revealed. "It seemed literally psychotic after a certain point because I had learned to see myself as worthy."
This news came as a shock to Smith’s mother and grandmother, she told the publication. In fact, for a long time, only one friend knew about it, the star previously admitted. "I never talk about it because it was such a short, weird point in my life," Smith explained.
Willow Smith’s music has evolved with her
Although Willow Smith had a tumultuous relationship with fame early on, she didn’t stop making and recording music. In 2015, she released her first album, Ardipithecus. The singer explained the meaning behind her album’s title when speaking to The Fader. "Ardipithecus Ramidus is the scientific name of the first hominid bones found on earth," she divulged. "I wanted to name my musical compilation after it because, while I was making these songs I was in such a transitional state."
Two years later, Smith dropped another album, this time entitled The 1st, which she described as the "emotional regurgitation from the depths of a burgeoning woman" (via W magazine).
Then, in 2019, she released the self-titled album Willow. In a review of the album, NME described it as "a mellow and melodic blend of psychedelic folk and dreamy R&B built around gentle guitar strums and a few jagged riffs." The publication also said the album is "proof that Willow’s talented enough to stand apart from her dynastic family." Just as Smith herself has changed since releasing her debut single, her subsequent songs are vastly different from the pop hit "Whip My Hair."
Creating music has taught Willow Smith confidence and self-love
"I tried so hard to leave [music] behind because it just caused me so much pain that I was like ‘is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?’ But music was just like ‘I love you, come back to me,’ so it’s definitely for real for real my ride or die," the singer told Beats 1 (via Genius) when promoting her third album. Yes, music is a part of her.
Music has also helped Willow Smith to develop self-love. She explained to Rolling Stone that if someone devotes hours to their art, they are left with a sense of accomplishment once it’s done. For the singer, this also results in confidence. Smith continued, saying this ends up creating a cycle of progressing toward her goal, becoming more competent in a new skill, and growing her confidence. It’s a cycle she goes through with all different types of experiences, but she explained that the resulting feelings are the same. "Like for each song you go through, ‘OK, I’m learning this. I’m learning this a bit more. Now, I get this,’" she said. "You start to become friends with the process."
Willow Smith is on the most popular show on Facebook
In 2018, Willow Smith became a cohost on Red Table Talk, a Facebook-based talk show that has since become no. 1 on the social media platform and boasts over 300 million views (via Deadline). Smith shares the table — which is indeed red — with fellow cohosts, mom Jada Pinkett Smith and "Gammy" Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
It was Smith’s mother who, after doing some "interior work," came up with the idea for the talk show. "And I just realized that in part of my growth, the women and the people who had the courage to be very transparent with me with certain aspects of their journey really, really helped my journey tremendously," Pinkett Smith revealed in an interview with NPR. "I was like: Why don’t we talk about this more often? Why is it such a secret of what people go through?" And so, she created a deeply personal, multigenerational safe space in which no topic is off-limits.
According to Pinkett Smith, the talk show has even provided her an opportunity to learn more about her daughter, particularly as it pertains to her past struggles.
Willow Smith knows what she wants in a romantic relationship
Willow Smith isn’t afraid to tackle hard issues on Red Table Talk, even if that means delving into her sexuality opposite her mom and grandmother. In the June 2019 episode "Unconventional Relationships," Pinkett Smith said her daughter had been researching polyamory. That is, the state of being in love or in a romantic relationship with two or more partners simultaneously.
Smith may not be interested in getting married or having children, but that doesn’t mean romance is off the table. "I love men and women equally," Smith divulged on the show. "I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people." She clarified that it’s not because she’s seeking new sexual experiences. "I focus a lot on the emotional connection," Smith explained, "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 have the need to try to go find more."
Willow Smith’s parents are proud of the young woman she’s become
By the time Willow Smith turned 19 years old, she had secured a role as a cohost on a wildly popular talk show, released three albums (plus multiple singles and EPs), and announced a co-headlining tour with her brother Jaden Smith, who has said some pretty strange things over the years. Those are all things to celebrate, for sure, but her parents are proud of their daughter for different reasons.
"What a powerhouse you are in all your precious gentleness and blooming heart," Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in an Instagram post on her daughter’s 19th birthday. "I’m so proud of the woman you are becoming and it is my joy in learning how to love you and honor you more and more every day."
In his own heartfelt social media post, Willow Smith’s father, Will Smith, wrote to his daughter, "You taught me what it REALLY means to Love somebody. You taught me to let go of my dreams (demands) of what you could (should) be… and to trust (surrender) to your personal visions for your life." He continued, writing, "It has been an awe-inspiring pleasure watching you blossom." No, we’re not crying – you’re crying!