Imagine growing up where, from birth, you are the subject of scrutiny. Everything you do and say is constantly being judged and analyzed with a fine-tooth comb to find the smallest infraction to latch on to and run with. At some point, it would get tiring for most, while some may perhaps thrive off of it. Jaden Smith, son to superstar parents Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, is tired of it and is ready to hang it all up.
The Smith parents are already used to living in the public eye, having had decades-long of successful careers between the two of them. Since beginning their relationship and marrying, many have held the couple up to high regard, placing them at the pinnacle of black love at one point. Over the years, however, their marriage has been placed under a microscope and placed under much criticism for various reasons, from talks of an open marriage to rumors of cheating and divorce.
Also becoming the subject of much conversation in the public has been their parenting choices, which many have deemed “unconventional”. “The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been—it has a little too much of a negative quality,” Smith explained once.
Their son Jaden, as Will describes, is “100 percent fearless” and ‘will do anything.” We’ve seen that from his choice of attire at Kanye and Kim’s wedding to some of his off the wall comments, including publicly stating that he and rapper Tyler, the Creator, were boyfriends (which Tyler denied). “So as a parent it’s scary, it’s really terrifying — but he is completely willing to live and die by his own artistic decisions and he just doesn’t concern himself with what people think,” Will said to Vanity Fair.
The close siblings have been known to be “free thinkers” for the majority of their lives. Willow Smith made the decision early on to drop her last name and adopt a single name moniker, which inspired her brother to do the same. “I realized that Willow changed her name to Willow at some point in time. And that she was no longer Willow Smith. Yeah, it took me a while. It took me a while,” Jaden said according to Roanoke Times. Continuing, he adds “Because if you look Willow Smith up, it’ll still come up. But then it took me a while to see that it was just Willow. And I was like, ‘Yo. That’s so strong.’ You feel like you don’t have to say your last name. You’re just Willow.”
He went on to explain the different variations of himself. “I create different characters for myself… and it’s like, Jaden, that’s music, and Jaden Smith, that’s 501(c)(3) [and] that’s acting in movies,” he said. “I wanted to just make that little distinction there, just a little bit.”
Choosing to be independent at a young age, Jaden also made the decision to emancipate himself. During a conversation on Red Table Talk, Jada recalls “I remember this day specifically/ It was probably one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. You got to a point here. You told me straight up — you were like, ‘Mom, I have to leave here to live my life.’ I remember thinking to myself, as devastated as I was, I was like, ‘He’s right. The time is now. He’s 15. It’s time for him to leave the house.”
Fans also recall a moment where the young artist and visionary revealed his 10-year plan. During an interview with Pharrell Williams for Interview Magazine, he and his sister Willow explained where they saw themselves in a decade. Jaden responded simply, “Gone,” prompting his sister to respond “I feel that.”
Doubling down on his sentiments he spoke with GQ as well where he spoke on his “plan”. “No one will know where I am in 10 years,” he explained. “They’ll see me pop up, but they’ll be like, ‘Where’d you come from?’ No one will know. No one will know where I’m at. No one will know who I’m with. No one will know what I’m doing.” Adding that it’s been his plan since he was 13-years old, he continued, explaining that he intended to continue to spread his gifts and help people through his art.
“It’ll be kind of like Banksy. But in a different way. More of a social impact. Helping people. But through art installations,” the rapper said. “It’ll be like, ‘This just happened that helped a bunch of people over here. We don’t know who did it, but these symbols and things were left around, so we can only guess that it’s Jaden and the squad’… You know what I’m saying? So I’m just dedicating my whole life to helping the world.”
Now at 22-years old, Jaden’s plans don’t seem to have changed. He recently spoke with his family on Red Table Talk where he spoke on the struggles and challenges of growing up in the public eye, as well as wondering what life would be like outside of living like the child of celebrities. “You’re not a normal human if you can’t go out into the world,” he said to his mother. “I don’t know how things always work. I always get nervous at the end of dinner. How do you have dinner with a group of people? When I have dinner with my dad, he orders everything on the menu, and then he pays for everything, and then he leaves. So it’s like — Is that how we do? Does everyone expect me to do that?”
While he holds on to his dream as the end of the 10 year’s draws closer and closer, he continues to work on his music, with his last album being released on August 28th of this year, and appears in films such as Impractical Jokers: The Movie, and the upcoming Life in a Year.