Everybody loves a good come up story, and Will Smith’s doesn’t disappoint. The award-winning actor recently posted a video on his YouTube channel, where he tells the story of how he became The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
If you’ve been following Smith’s career from the beginning, you know he started in hip-hop in 1988 with the smash single “Parents Just Don’t Understand” alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff on their album, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. The duo from West Philadelphia went on to win a Grammy for the record and made tons of money. But as fast as the checks came, it left just as swiftly. Smith recalls their second album being a flop and spending all his money on material things.
Eventually, the IRS caught onto Smith and took away his prized belongings. He describes being famous but poor as a very interesting experience. “We released our next album, and it was like a flop,” he said in the clip. “It was a tragedy. It went double plastic. I had spent all my money and I didn’t forget but I didn’t pay the IRS.”
“I was like broke, broke, broke—being famous and broke is a sh**ty combination because you’re still famous and they still recognize you while you’re sitting on the bus,” he adds.
Then his girlfriend at the time suggested he go to The Arsenio Hall Show. He ended up attending, and Hall connected him with Quincy Jones, creator of The Fresh of Prince of Bel Air. Upon meeting Smith at his house, Jones asked him to audition in front of his famous guests and the rest is history.
Watch his Fresh Prince come up story above.