Will Smith's Biggest Memoir Bombshells About His Childhood Trauma, Career and Marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith
By Mekishana Pierre
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Will Smith isn't holding anything back in his recently released memoir, Will.
The 53-year-old actor is generally known for his frankness but, within the pages of his book, he bares it all for his readers -- tackling his childhood trauma, tumultuous marriage to ex-wife Sheree Zampino, the juggling of family and fame, and more.
The book follows the actor's rise from a Philadelphia teen to a beloved rap, TV and film superstar. Its official synopsis describes the book as "the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same."
Co-written with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k author Mark Manson, the memoir also explores Smith's journey of self-knowledge, which he hopes to share with younger fans through the newly launched WILL Youth Book Club. The club aims to influence fans into finding a new love of reading, culture, self-expression, self-healing, and self-awareness.
Here's a look at some of the biggest reveals in Will, which is out now.
He contemplated suicide for the first time at 13
Will reveals that he thought about killing himself twice in his life, with the first time being when his mother left his father. The actor explains that as a child he witnessed his father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr., abuse his mother, Caroline Bright, multiple times in their Philadelphia home. Having endured "enough," Caroline left the household when Will was 13.
"She'd had enough," he writes. "She went to work the next morning and didn't come home. She didn't go far – just a few blocks to (grandmother) Gigi's house – but the message was clear: She was done."
Will shares that his mother's absence overwhelmed him with guilt and loneliness that led to him contemplating killing himself. It was thinking of his grandmother Gigi, that brought him back from the emotional ledge.
"I thought about pills; I knew where a boy had lost his legs on the train tracks; I had seen people cut their wrists in a bathtub on TV. But what kept ringing in my mind was a faint memory of hearing Gigi say that killing yourself was a sin," he writes.
He burned his ex-girlfriend's belongings when they broke up
One of Will's earliest relationships was with a woman named Melanie Parker.
"From the day I met her, Melanie had been the center of my life," he writes. "Healing the pain of her trauma became my constant preoccupation. The look in Melanie's eyes became the substitute for Gigi's approval. I've always needed a woman to achieve for."
But it wasn't meant to be. Will explains that while he was away on tour, Melanie cheated on him. The young rapper ended the relationship, but the heartbreak led him to go "full ghetto hyena."
"I had sex with so many women, and it was so constitutionally disagreeable to the core of my being, that I developed a psychosomatic reaction to having an orgasm. It would literally make me gaga and sometimes even vomit."
He realized he was doing the very thing he hated his dad for, hurting women. Will goes on to say that his entire self-esteem was wrapped up in women’s approval of him. He and Melanie would later get back together but it would end terribly again. "The bliss-filled old days were finally giving way to the days of resentment, rage, and destruction," he writes, revealing that he collected every item he ever bought for her and lit it on fire.
Will calls Melanie a victim of "one of the lowest points in my life," and shares that to this day, he has never seen or spoken to her again, despite reaching out several times over the years.
Jada's friendship with Tupac Shakur's elicited 'raging jealousy' from him
Will has spoken before of his jealously when it comes to wife Jada Pinkett Smith's well-known relationship with rapper Tupac, but in the book, he admits how insecure the duo made him feel.
"In the beginning of our relationship, my mind was tortured by their connection. He was 'PAC! I was me," he writes. "He triggered the perception of myself as a coward. I hated that I wasn't what he was in the world, and I suffered a raging jealousy. I wanted Jada to look at me like that."
He acknowledges this was the reason he and Tupac were unable to become friends, despite being in the same room with the late rapper on multiple occasions.
"The way Jada loved 'Pac rendered me incapable of being friends with him. I was too immature," he admits.
Losing an argument with Bad Boys director Michael Bay made him 'a f**king movie star'
While filming Bad Boys with Martin Lawrence, Will and Michael had what he describes as one of their biggest disputes. The director wanted him to complete the film's famous car chasing bridge scene without a shirt but Will was self-conscious of his newly muscled physique.
"I wasn't yet secure with my new body. The thought of standing around all day with no shirt on intimidated me," Smith recalled.
They reached a compromise where Will wore a shirt but left it unbuttoned, a decision that the actor said turned him from a family-friendly entity to a sex symbol.
"Up until this point in my life, I had used comedy to attract women. And now I was being objectified. It was wonderful," he writes. "All I could think was, OK, Michael Bay, you were right, I was wrong. Thank you."
Good Times' John Amos told him to end The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with 'dignity'
Will says that he knew that Fresh Prince "jumped the shark" in season 5 episode 15, when Carlton starts carrying a gun. He reveals that it was the advice of the late John Amos that motivated him to end the show with the next season.
"Do not let them f**k off all of your hard work and passion," the older actor told him. "It is your responsibility to make sure these people get to leave this show with some dignity."
Will told the cast the next week that season 6 would be the show's final season and he got to "send my television family off with dignity."
In a bid for self-discovery, he tried ayahuasca
After splitting from Jada in 2011, Will went through a journey for self-clarity. As he explains, he embarked on a 14-day silent retreat in Peru, where he took ayahuasca more than a dozen times while under the supervision of a shaman and arrived at some epiphanies.
He describes the experience as "floating deep in space," as if he were light-years from earth. He says he sensed an "unseeable woman" who he came to call "Mother" and would seek out each time he took ayahuasca.
It is through this vision of 'Mother' that Will was able to discover a truth that allowed him to understand "the true combat zone was my mind."
Mother helped him understand: "If I'm this beautiful, I don't need #1 movies to feel good about myself. If I'm this beautiful, I don't need hit records to feel worthy of love. If I'm this beautiful, I don't need Jada or anyone else to validate me."
Will is out now. For more revelations from Will, see the video below.