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‘I Didn’t Feel Protected’: Willow Smith Shares How Unsafe She Felt In the Music Industry When Starting Out

Willow Smith opened up on July 29 about how detrimental the music industry was to her mental health when she first started. 

Smith catapulted into the music world at the age of 10 when she released her hit single “Whip My Hair” in 2010. The singer disclosed to UK singer Yungblud during “The YUNGBLUD Podcast” the immense fear she had entering the industry at a young age. 

Willow Smith opens up about how “unsafe” she felt in the music industry early on in her career, while also touching on how that affected her mental health. (Photo: @willowsmith/Instagram)

She said, “for so long, I had a lot of fear. I felt extremely unsafe in my music career in the past and that feeling of insecurity or unsafety, like I didn’t feel protected, which went really deep.”

Smith also recalled a time when she experiencing an anxiety attack while on set, but it was brushed off as a tantrum. The 20-year-old stated, “It’s interesting because all of those memories and emotions have just been resurfacing. I was doing the Jimmy Fallon performance, and I had like a flashback of being like 10 or 9 and having like an anxiety attack on set and basically feeling like everyone around me was like ‘You’re just a brat. Why aren’t you grateful?’ They didn’t see it as an anxiety attack. They saw it as a tantrum, and now I look back and know it was an anxiety attack.” 

The “Transparent Soul” vocalist added that in order to cope she would try to address the issue as a “grown” adult. “[I] tell myself that, ‘You’re not 9, you’re a grown-ass woman.’ I have to retrain my mind. My mental health is in a very fragile state, but I think it’s in a state where it’s about to grow in a really awesome way.”

Smith’s past encounter with anxiety could have played a role in her gesture to raise awareness of mental illness by spending 24 hours in a box at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Last year, the songstress participated in “The Anxiety” performance art piece alongside Tyler Cole. Both Smith and Cole, who were able to speak during this piece, were provided three canvas walls to paint and or write affirmations as they explored eight different emotions together. The eight emotions included, sadness, rage, paranoia, acceptance, strong interest, compassion, euphoria and numbness. 

Smith told the Los Angeles Times the purpose of her being a part of this piece was to let people know that they are accepted as they are. 

“This is not so that people are like, ‘Oooh.’ This is for awareness. The first thing we’re going to be writing on our title wall is something along the lines of: ‘The acceptance of one’s fears is the first step toward understanding.’ So then you know this is on something real. This is for a real cause.”

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