“Will” – Bookcast #35

Will 2021 by Will Smith and Mark Manson

Will Smith’s transformation from a West Philadelphia kid to one of the biggest rap stars of his era, and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, is an epic tale — but it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: Not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: They felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over. 

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy best seller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ckWill is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

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Overview of “Will”

  • A very brief description of “Will”
    • Will Smith’s story of his life, his transformation from a little kid terrified of an abusive father to a global music and movie superstar and how he brought the people he loved with him
  • What Smith sets out to do / Purpose of the book
    • To show that you can become great if you apply yourself to three fundamental systems: Discipline, Education and Love
  • The intended audience of the book / Who will benefit most
    • Everyone who likes anything Will Smith has done
  • Who probably WON’T like this book?
    • People who really hate Will Smith (if you like him even a little you’ll definitely enjoy this book)
    • People who can’t forgive “The Slap”
    • Most people will love it though
  • How does this book specifically benefit Men? 
    • This book is about a boy growing up and becoming a King. It is a tremendous instruction book on excellence for men.
  • Is this book Easy, Average or Difficult to read? / How long is it?
    • Very Easy – 432 pages, 16.25 hours on audible
  • What are the overall book reviews? Is the book well-known? Popular? Significant?
    • 14,821 ratings, 4.8 stars
      • #1 in Rap & Hip-Hop Biographies
      • #7 in Biographies of Actors & Entertainers
    • Audible
      • #1 in Rich & Famous Biographies
      • #2 in Actor & Entertainer Biographies
      • #3 in Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals

Bio of Will Smith

  • Willard Carroll Smith II, also known as the Fresh Prince, is an American actor, rapper, and film producer.
  • He was born on September 25, 1968, to Caroline Bright, a Philadelphia school board administrator, and Willard Carroll Smith Sr., a US Air Force veteran and refrigeration engineer. His mother graduated from Carnegie Mellon University.
  • He grew up in West Philadelphia’s lower-middle class Wynnefield neighborhood and was raised Baptist.
  • Smith began rapping at the age of 12. When his grandmother found a notebook of his lyrics, which he described as containing “all [his] little curse words”, she wrote him a note on a page in the book, which read, “Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like this to express themselves. Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are”. Smith said that this influenced his decision not to use profanity in his music.
  • During his career Smith has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and four Grammy Awards.
  • As of 2021, his films have grossed over $9.3 billion globally,
  • Smith first gained recognition as part of a hip hop duo with DJ Jazzy Jeff, with whom he released five studio albums, including the hit singles “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime.”
  • His solo albums include the multi-platinum albums “Big Willie Style” and “Willenium,“ which the number one singles “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It,” “Wild Wild West” and “Men in Black.
  • Smith achieved wider fame for his fictionalized self-portrayal on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996). From there he starred in the action film Bad Boys and its sequels, and the sci-fi comedy Men in Black and its sequels. After starring in the thrillers Independence Day (1996) and Enemy of the State (1998), he portrayed Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001), earning his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
  • He then starred in a range of commercially successful films, including I, Robot (2004), Shark Tale (2004), Hitch (2005), Hancock (2008), and Seven Pounds (2008). He received his second Academy Award nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 
  • For his portrayal of Richard Williams in the biographical sports drama King Richard (2021), Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the first rapper to win an acting Oscar

Breakdown of Themes

  • Fear, Fantasy, and Performance, show us how Will was raised, how he became the way that he was, where he was raised, and what shaped his mindset from the early day.
  • Power, Hope, Ignorance, Adventure, and Pain show us Will as a teenager and young adult, rising through the world of hip-hop, getting his first Grammy, and “making it.” But chapter nine, Destruction, tears all of it down when Will gets into a problem with the IRS by not paying his taxes, owing millions, and his new album is a fluke.
  • Alchemy, Adaptation, and Desire, lead us through Will’s life when he stopped recording his music and got an opportunity to play The Prince of Bel-Air. We follow Will as he quickly rises as a TV star, gets married (and divorced), and becomes a father. Then, he shifted to the next big thing— movies.
  • Devotion, Boom, and Inferno, lays out how Will started becoming a movie star and how quickly he rose to the rank of one of the most famous movie stars in the world.
  • Purpose, shows us how Will got the role of Muhhamad Ali and got his Oscar nomination.
  • Perfection, Mutiny, and Retreat show us how even though Will got everything in his life, he still felt kind of empty and unsatisfied inside. He kept pushing himself and his family to do more and be more which resulted in quite a lot of problems in his second marriage with Jada.
  • Surrender, and Love, show us a Will who has changed and embraced his shadow side. He is no longer the “do or die” type of guy who pushes everyone to the brink. He found a new way to himself and his family, accepting his shortcomings and coming to terms with his demons.
  • Jump takes us to Will’s 50th birthday where he did a Bungee Jump from a helicopter overlooking Grand Canyon with his entire family and friends watching. The event was a culmination of his fear of being a coward and dealing with failures and fails in his life.

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"Will" - Bookcast #35 1

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