Will Smith Speaks On How ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Was Created
Rapper/Actor Will Smith recently shared the story how the show, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air was created. Will posted a video on his YouTube Channel detailing how the hit show got its start. He shared,
Before I was getting in trouble with Uncle Phil, I was in trouble with Uncle Sam.
Originally before getting into acting, he started off his career as a rapper. Along with his childhood friend and DJ, they became the duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.
Me and Jeff had come out with our smash hit, Parents Just Don’t Understand. We made a bunch of money, we won a Grammy. Album was triple platinum. I had motorcycles and cars. I called the Gucci store in Atlanta and I was like ‘hey will y’all close it down if I bring my friends? And I’m smiling but that’s stupid.
Feeding off the success of their triple platinum second album, “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper”, Will and Jazzy Jeff released the follow up album, “And In This Corner…”. Unfortunately, the album did not sell as well as the previous album that was a huge success.
We released our next album and it was like a flop. It was a tragedy. It went like double plastic. I had spent most of my money. I spent all my money.
Will spent money freely around that time and he underpaid his income taxes. He shared,
I didn’t forget, but I didn’t pay the IRS. In my mind I wasn’t like trying to avoid paying taxes.
The IRS took most of his possessions and garnished his income. He went on to say,
The IRS took all that stuff, so I was like broke, broke, broke.
Will spoke briefly about during the time when he was broke, his girlfriend at the time really encouraged him to stop sitting around and make something happen. He says she told him,
Dude we not doing this. Like you’re not just gonna be laying around this house all day. You gone’ do something. Go where people is doing it! Go to the Arsenio Hall Show.
He went on the Arsenio Hall Show where he met Benny Medina, who was the VP Of A&R at Warner Brothers during time.
Benny Medina is the real life Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. Except he actually went from Watts to Beverly Hills. Same basic concept way shorter distance.
After meeting Benny, he pitched idea of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to the rapper.
I meet Benny and he pitches me the idea for this show and I’m like you know, I’m not an actor and I’m like cool.
Benny really encouraged him and told Will,
Hey, I want you to meet Quincy Jones. Quincy Jones is producing with me.
Once Benny was able to convince Will to give the idea of a TV show a try, he met with the music veteran Quincy Jones.
So Benny walks me in and introduce me to Quincy. He was like ‘hey Q what’s up’.
Quincy was very impressed with Will and told him,
Hey man I saw your music videos, I love what you doing, I love what your doing. Tell me your rap name again?.
Will responded and told him,
They call me The Fresh Prince.
He recalls Quincy’s reaction and his response was,
Alright good that’s what we going to call the show. And he handed me a screen play for a failed Morris Day pilot. Like I don’t have time.
Quincy was ready for him to audition that day. Will responded and told him,
Hey Q, hold up man, hold up! I’m not ready to do no audition.
Will was in no rush to audition because he felt he lacked the experience and needed more time to prepare. He wanted the audition held at a later time. “Just set the meeting for a week and could do it.”
However, Quincy made a statement that changed the course of everything. He says Quincy told him,
Yeah yeah you know Brandon Tartikoff the head of NBC is out there, I’ll get him to schedule for next week. And then you know what’s going happen? Something’s going to come up and then he is going to have to reschedule.
Will was still reluctant about auditioning, saying.
Yeah yeah so three weeks from now Q! We can do it three weeks from now.
Quincy knew that an opportunity like this does not come around and he did not to want him to wait three weeks before auditioning. He advised Will,
Yeah yeah three weeks from now would be good or you can take ten minutes right now and change your life forever.
Will finally agreed to audition.
Yes. Give me ten minutes. I said yes and I let it rip and I got to the end and everybody is clapping.
And the rest is history!