Will Smith spoke about his experiences with racism in a new podcast interview, revealing that despite being a Hollywood actor he was not immune from targeted aggression.
The 52-year-old Men In Black star shared on Pod Save America Monday that he has been called ‘the N-word’ a handful of times in his life, but had always equated it with levels of intelligence.
‘I’ve been called the N-word to my face probably five or six times. Fortunately for my psyche I’ve never been called N-word by a smart person,’ he shared, before elaborating that he has found that ‘less true’ as he has gotten older.
Racist realizations: Will Smith, 52, spoke about his experience with racism in the past in a podcast interview, sharing that he has been called ‘the N-word’ a handful of times in his life but never by a ‘smart person’; pictured 2019
In conversation about his new Netflix docu-series Amend: The Fight For America, that explores the fourteenth amendment and its effects on America, Smith spoke about being on the receiving end of hate in his life.
‘I grew up with the impression that racists and racism were stupid,’ he said, adding that he always thought that ‘racists’ were easy to get around but he ‘just had to be smarter.’
‘While they were very dangerous, I had never looked into the eyes of a racist and saw anything that I perceived as intellect,’ he said, later adding that he as he matured he realized this notion was not entirely accurate.
‘As I got older I saw that was less and less true, and as I went into Hollywood I started to see the ideas of systemic racism – but at the core of it I noticed a difference between ignorance and evil.
‘They’re twins for sure but ignorance can be educated and evil is a much more difficult problem,’ he shared.
Unpacking ignorance: Speaking to Pod Save America about his new series Amend: The Fight For America, he said he ‘had never looked into the eyes of a racist and saw anything that [he] perceived as intellect’; pictured Monday
Amend: While his docu-series does explore the country’s past — which he said was ‘established by white men for white men’ — the actor also shared that he undoubtedly see it as a ‘multiracial multiethnic democracy,’ now
Hopeful: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air star said that on account of the massive Black Lives Matter movement the country is in an ‘unprecedented place with many dangers but also new possibilities’
Touching on what he perceives as a glimmer of hope in the United States despite a history of racial darkness ’embedded in the fibers’ he said: ‘Fortunately, ignorance is more prevalent than blatant evil so I’ve always been encouraged that the process of education and understanding could alleviate some of the more dangerous and difficult aspects of racism.’
While his docu-series does explore the country’s past — which he said was ‘established by white men for white men’ — the actor also shared that he undoubtedly see it as a ‘multiracial multiethnic democracy,’ now.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air star said that on account of the massive Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (as well as countless others), the country is in an ‘unprecedented place with many dangers but also new possibilities.’
‘There is a momentum…I’m very hopeful for America as a whole, as an idea, as a country – I’m very hopeful for our future.’
Truth seeking: In the conversation, he openly acknowledged that his past views on racism and intelligence were not accurate also touching on systemic racism in Hollywood where he has endured a 30 year career
Growing up: As a child growing up in Philadelphia, Smith has said that he had had numerous interactions with law enforcement who had hurled the N-word at him at least 10 times; pictured with siblings Harry and Ellen
Will also spoke about entering politics and why he hasn’t taken the leap. ‘I’m gonna let that office get cleaned up a little bit,’ he joked taking a jab at the Trump administration, saying he would ‘consider it down the line.’
When it comes to his career in Hollywood, Smith has spoken in the past about not letting racism get ‘power’ over him.
Talking about his role in the 2018 film The Pursuit of Happyness — a movie based on the life of a Christopher Gardner who went from being homeless to owning his own stock brokerage firm — Smith spoke about not letting racism color the story or his life.
‘In the film, there’s no hint to any racism. That was something specifically that Chris spoke about. He said, “Well, sure, there may have been racism but the belief that if you acknowledge it, you give it power over you.”‘
Smith continued to say, ‘You can call it arrogance, you call it naiveté. You call it whatever you want, but I truly believe in a situation where you are hoping to create something, it is a much more powerful space to know that you will not be denied. Whatever’s out there, you’re running over it.’
Taking back the power: The Hollywood vet said that he tries to not let racism get ‘power over [him]’ saying in a 2018 interview ‘I truly believe in a situation where you are hoping to create something, it is a much more powerful space to know that you will not be denied’; pictured 2020