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‘I Just Feel Like I’m So Much Better’: Will Smith Credits the Exploration of His ‘Childhood Trauma’ for Helping Him Level Up as an Actor

Will Smith has reached a new level as an actor. 

For the first time in his acting career, which dates back to the late ’80s, Smith struck gold with his first win at the 79th Golden Globe Awards held on Jan. 9. His victory was in the category of Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for the depiction of Richard Williams, father to tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.”

Venus Williams (left), Saniyya Sidney, Will Smith, Demi Singleton, and Serena Williams. (Photo: @willsmith/Instagram)

Even before its Christmas Day release critics lauded the film as a big contender for the awards season, even one that could potentially garner Smith his first Oscar. 

From the outside looking in, it is easy to assume that Smith is finally hitting a peak in his acting career after putting in more than the storied 10,000 hours required to master a craft. But for the actor, the success of his latest film is not only the fundamentals (an amazing story combined with an outstanding cast) but also a culmination of Smith doing some heavy soul-searching that gave him access to new facilities of his craft. 

“The exploration of my childhood trauma has opened me up to understand characters and to understand stories, mental anguish and triumph,” said Smith during a recent interview with Australasian reporter Carrie Bickmore. Much of that exploration has made Smith a constant headline over the past several months as he promoted his memoir “Will,” peeling back the facade of the A-list actor whose real life is as perfect as the public persona he’d tirelessly crafted. 

“I just feel like I’m so much better an actor now after having gone through the process of my memoir — I was doing that at the same time I was filming ‘King Richard,’” he added. The success of the film is not lost on Smith, who has been nominated for two Oscars in the past — Best Actor in both 2002’s “Ali” and 2007’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

“This one is special,” said Smith of “King Richard.” “It’s one of those films that really it covers a broad spectrum of emotion and ideal that’s truly rare, and I had secretly in my mind felt that I would never make anything better than ‘Pursuit of Happyness.’”


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