We all know how the fictional Will Smith became the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In a new video, Smith breaks down how the real Will Smith took the role. It has to do with Uncle Sam, not Uncle Phil.
You see, young Will didn’t pay the taxes on his hit triple platinum sophomore album He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, and instead spent the money on things a teenager who just got a lot of money would.
Then his third album flopped and he couldn’t pay the IRS the $2.8 million he owed.
“I had spent all my money, and I didn’t forget, but I didn’t pay the IRS,” Will explained. “In my mind, I wasn’t trying to avoid paying taxes. I was just like, ‘Ah damn, they need their money.’ Being famous and broke is a shitty combination. Cause you still famous and people recognize you. But they recognize you while you’re sitting next to them on the bus.”
Smith’s girlfriend at the time convinced him that he could get out of his rut by hanging around the Arsenio Hall Show and making industry contacts. It actually worked. Smith met Benny Medina, who was developing a show about his own life that eventually became the Fresh Prince.
Medina liked Smith for the starring role and introduced Smith to the show’s producer Quincy Jones at Jones’s house. A drunken Jones got Smith to audition on the spot. Smith nailed the audition and the rest is history.