Williard Carroll Smith Jr., better known as Will Smith, is a lot of things. He is a renowned actor, a dedicated father, a loving husband, and so on. His career in Hollywood has made him a household name thanks to movies like The Pursuit of Happyness and Men in Black.
However, while one might think Will Smith’s insane acting skills are the reason behind his success, they might be a bit off. Sure, his talent sets new and higher bars with every project he does, but the actor believes that it is his hard work and dedication that have given him these heights in his career. Will Smith’s father might have had something to do with the resilience the actor now possesses.
Will Smith’s Father Makes Him Build a Wall
In his autobiography, Will, Will Smith opens up about his life with the help of American author Mark Manson. The autobiography is being called inspirational and readers have said that it allows them to know the actor on a more personal level.
In one such inspiring part of the book, Smith talks about the time his father, William Carroll Smith Sr., appointed him and his younger brother, Harry Smith, to build a wall in front of his shop. By no means was the task going to be an easy one as the wall was supposed to be “roughly twelve feet high by twenty feet long.” Let’s not forget that this challenge was supposed to be faced by an eleven-year-old child and his even younger brother.
Instead of hiring professional construction workers, Smith’s dad broke down the 16 feet high and 30 feet long wall and asked his two sons to start building the new wall by hand. Smith recalls in his autobiography that he was in “excruciating disbelief” at his father’s request and was certain that the hole would never become a wall.
However, despite their doubts, the two got down to business and would go to the shop for nearly a year and work on the task. They would dig the footing, mix the mortar, carry buckets, and so on. To this date, Smith remembers the formula for making the mortar.
All the work that the two brothers had to do, the I am Legend actor called it chain-gain labor and stated that if it happened today, Child Protective Services would’ve been called on his father.
“If we can keep it real, this is chain-gang kinda labor. Today we would just call Child Protective Services. This is a job so tedious and unnecessarily long that what ended up taking two kinds most of a year would have only taken a team of grown men a couple of days at most.”
So while the two young Smiths never got a day off from work, working through weekends and vacations, the fruit of their hard work was ready to be reaped. After months of working, they finally had a wall which was made by the brother with no professional help.
Moral of the Story
It looks like what Smith once thought to be a tedious and unnecessary task, the same task would be laying the groundwork for the actor’s work ethic. Thanks to a year of hard work, Smith now puts dedication and resilience at the top of his priority list. In an interview with Charlie Rose back in 2002, Smith stated that he had learned from his parents at a young age the importance of taking the first step.
“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.”
In a famous analogy shared by Smith during an interview with Travis Smiley, he talks about running on a treadmill. According to him, if he is running on a treadmill and a guy gets on to the one next to him, Smith won’t be the one to get off first. He won’t be outworked. The other person might be more talented than Smith, but Smith is more hardworking. So Smith gives the person on the treadmill two options – either he gets off the treadmill before Smith, or Smith dies running on the machine.
Building the wall might have had a hand in the never giving up attitude Smith has.