“How about I just be 12”: Will Smith’s Dream to Make Daughter Willow Smith a Child Star Was Shattered After She Flatly Refused $133M Cameron Diaz Movie

Will Smith’s family is full of talented artists, and one of those budding talents is his daughter, Willow Smith. A singer and actress, the Smith offspring released her fifth album in 2022, titled Coping Mechanism. The 22-year-old singer, who also goes by the stylized name WILLOW, made her acting debut in her father’s 2007 film, I Am Legend.

Will Smith with his wife Jada Smith and children Jaden and Willow Smith

Will Smith’s family consists of all talented artists

She also went on to portray another acting role in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and several voice roles in animated films. Later, Smith shifted her focus to her singing career, even at one point outright rejecting a film role.

Will Smith Shared How His Daughter Rejected A Titular Movie Role At Age 12

Willow Smith

Willow Smith rejected a role in a Cameron Diaz movie

In 2011, Will Smith and Jay-Z joined forces to produce a reboot of the 1977 Broadway musical, Annie. It was based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, and Willow Smith was initially attached as the lead in the project. The 10-year-old Willow Smith was already a known name, having released her first single, Whip My Hair, which reached the 11th position on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, production took some time in search of a director and screenwriter for the Annie movie. By the time Will Gluck and Aline Brosh McKenna joined the project, Willow Smith was 12 and no longer interested in pursuing an acting career. The Bad Boys actor revealed this when he appeared on the Real Talk with Sister Souljah and Will Smith at Temple University. The Emancipation actor shared (via ET Online):
“Willow was supposed to be doing Annie, we got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with Whip My Hair and she said, ‘You know Daddy, I don’t think so,’ and I said, ‘Baby, hold up!’ I said, ‘No, no, no, listen, you’ll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyoncé will be there. You will be singing and dancing,’ and she looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, I have a better idea, how about I just be 12.’”
It shows the parenting style of the Smiths, as their children grew up to be self-confident and decisive young people capable of making crucial career decisions at the age of 12.

Will Smith Learned A Few Life Lessons From His Daughter

Willow Smith and Will Smith

Will Smith with daughter Willow Smith

Will Smith admitted that he couldn’t initially understand the emotional needs of his child, so he tried to persuade her to do the movie. However, from Willow Smith’s insistence on enjoying her childhood, the King Richard actor learned that focusing solely on money or material things can sometimes cause you to overlook other important things.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor shared that he, for a moment, forgot that he was doing the movie out of love for his daughter rather than for material gains. The Men In Black actor shared (via ET Online):
“I’m really learning through Willow the necessity that we have to snap ourselves back and refocus on the emotional needs of the people that we love. Someone’s emotional needs can be very, very different from your dreams and what you think they should be doing and where they are supposed to be.”
Quvenzhané Wallis replaced Willow Smith in the titular role in the movie, Annie. The movie also starred big names like Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, and Cameron Diaz. However, the $133 million film failed to impress the critics and audiences, earning two Golden Raspberry Awards, including one for Diaz for Worst Supporting Actress.

It appears that Willow Smith dodged a bullet with that role. Annie is now available for streaming on Starz.

Source: ET Online

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