They also have regular family meetings. Will says that the problem with letting your kids talk… the first generation making a path in the world is strictly about survival (parenting with “because I said so”) which is when you loose the humanity and purpose in your life. And why you had children, says Oprah. They all laugh. Will wants his kids- Trey with his football, Willow with her singing and Jaden with his acting, he wants them all to live in service to greatness. To live and create in a way that is inspiring to people, so that people want to be better by being close to their excellence. The kids have to define their own vision. In order to reach that excellence, you have to find that drive within yourself.
Oprah says that Jada looks fantastic, Jada says look who she is married to. At home Jada says she wears track pants because she is so busy. But she says that she makes sure Will gets his treats. They laugh.
Oprah says that she asks this often of her guests, as everyone wants to have a better life than their parents: How do you raise solid grounded kids when they have access to everything? Will says that he tells the kids all the time that their mommy and daddy are rich, but that the kids are broke. They don’t allow their kids to sit around. They talk about the concept of the group- and the necessity of adding something good to the family, then the neighborhood, then humanity. Jada says that they have to have purpose, that gives them self-esteem and that grounds them. Oprah asks if they talk about the purpose of the movie beyond getting the role? Will says that they talk about the idea of illustrating some aspect of the human spirit- the purpose of your art is to advance and elevate humanity.
Oprah asks how they keep their marriage alive, what are the treats that Jada does. Jada says that she always surprises Will, because he is such a thinker, always thinking. Like maybe she sends a sexy photo to remind him what is waiting for him at home. Will says hi to his mom in the audience. Everyone laughs. Jada says that everyone would be surprised at how sensitive Will is, that he has a wonderful, generous heart, how he loves people. Will kisses Jada. Oprah say that she read that Will feels he is still searching for his place in the world as he gets older. Will explains that he was introduced to a Baptist Church in West Philly as a child, and that serving higher goals was very important. He feels that all the blessings that he has had in his life- his wife and family- there is no way that God intended that to happen by accident. The crowd cheer and Oprah says that she gets that, she so gets that. That is how Oprah leads her life too. She prays to be used in service to a calling greater than her own. Will feels that he is energized every day by the possibilities, and now he is almost 43 (Oprah asks if he has turned 20 yet, as he doesn’t seem to age) and he feels that the possibilities of what they can do as a family are enormous. He said his grandmother was always smiling and when he asked her why, she said that she knew what she was going to do- she was going to make everything that she touched better. Oprah thanks him for sharing that.
In the Smith household, 17 year old Trey is a Varsity star football player, 9 year old Willow is a singer, actress and fashionista, like her mom, and 11 year old Jaden has grown up in front of our eyes. He acted alongside his Dad in The Pursuit of Happiness and now he is the star of his own movie, The Karate Kid, produced by Will and Jada. They packed up the whole family and moved to China for 4 months. Come on out, says Oprah. The kids come out and the crowd roar. Oprah hugs them and welcomes them. She meets Trey for the first time. Trey says that he is working on producing music now- he didn’t get the acting bug, he has no interest for now. Oprah asks him the best advice he has received from his parents- his mom told him to speak up when he has something to say. His Dad and him are reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Will says that he still has a poor person mentality- he says that he is as financially nervous as he was when they were struggling. Oprah is surprised but she says that she gets it about spending. Who knows what a million dollars can do? She knows what $29.99 can do. Exactly, Jada and Will say. Will wants his kids to have a financial comprehension, to not be slaves to working and money. Oprah asks Jaden if his parents are cool – Jayden says that his parents embarrass him all the time – his dad will just pull his pants down at school. Oprah plays the music video Will made when he was 19. Oprah asks what he knows now that he wished he knew then. He says that parents don’t have to understand because they are in charge. The things parents understand are so difficult because they can’t be explained. He says that allowing kids to see you at work shows them you in your best light, dealing with stress and working with people.
Oprah asks WIllow if she talked to her mom or dad about her new haircut. Willow says her mom is always the one coming up with suggestions. Jada says that it is great that Willow’s beauty doesn’t depend on her hair, she told Jada that she just wanted to be free. Jada told her let’s just piecemeal it, let’s do one side at a time.
To prepare for his role in The Karate Kid, Jaden trained 3 hours a day for 4 months. The remake was made entirely in China. Jaden plays an American boy who has a hard time adjusting to his new life. He gets a crash course in Kung Fu from Jackie Chan, a maintenance man, to stop the bullies. It opens on June 11th, Oprah says that Jaden is great in it, she could feel the tension of being bullied so well. Will says that 4 years ago after The Pursuit of Happiness, Jaden wanted to move forward and The Karate Kid was one of Will’s favorites as a child. They wanted to remake a classic David and Goliath story. Oprah asks Jaden if he was ripped before the movie? Jaden says yes, smaller but ripped. He and Willow have been taking karate since they were three. 3 months into training, he could do the splits in the air. Oprah asks if he’s been bullied before, he says that he hasn’t but he could feel it and understand it and be it. The crowd applaud. He had his first on-screen kiss- he says that he is good at kissing so it wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. This is why you need old-school parenting, says Will. I’m going to leave it there, says Oprah.
Someone in the audience asks what punishment is in their house- Will says that they don’t believe in punishment, but that there are consequences to your actions. The kids can have as much freedom as they can handle, but if something happens then they need to be restricted to protect themselves from potential damage, not punishing them for what they did. That’s good parenting, says Oprah.
They play a home video from China narrated by Will. Will and Jada had two jobs in China- they produced the movie and were also the parents of the star. About 6 weeks into shooting, Jaden hurt his knee and Will had to give his son a pep talk to keep working despite the pain. They also relaxed and had some fun. They filmed in many exotic locations and saw the best of China- the Forbidden City, the Golden Summit. Legend has it that those who hang a lock at the Golden Summit will have their spirits joined together for eternity. They hang their locks- Daddy and Jayden on one and Mommy and Jayden engraved on the other and hug. Trey could not go on the trip as he is a high school football star- Will flew back every weekend to see Trey play. That is amazing says Oprah, it brought tears to her eyes the first time she heard it.
Jada says that to work so closely together with Will was intense and she thinks they got over some huge hurdles. They are different creatures and they create in very different ways. They realized their strengths and weaknesses and found out when to fall back. Will says that in his mind he was teaching his son to hunt- Jada says that as a mother this is an excruciating thing to watch- the mothering instinct kicks in hard. Jada says that it was a ferocious fight because the in China the laws allow the kids to work long hours, too hard. He is 11, there had to be a balance. Jada says that he is a different child now, he walks with confidence because he has achieved something himself. Greatness is on the edge of destruction, says Will. You were almost over, it was almost it, when the Phoenix rises from the ashes. Yes, but do you have to almost die each time? asks Oprah. Jada agrees emphatically. Will says that 11 is when you learn it, you can’t do it at 22. Jaden learns that he can’t be broken: he is unbreakable. Jada and Will say that they have been having this passionate debate. Oprah says that she gets it.
Oprah says that Will’s movie Seven Pounds is about a man who kills seven people when texting and driving. Will and Jada have agreed to sign the pledge. Oprah thanks them. Oprah thought that the movie would get people to think about it in a different way. Oprah thanks them all. Will says that they have something for her from the Smith Family. It is a white shirt with a sparkly Karate Kid on it and Oprah’s logo. Oprah says that it is great and thanks them all again.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
If you don’t have a goal or purpose for your relationship, or anything, you can get lost in the murk of the journey.
Will Smith wants his family to live and create in a way that is inspiring to people, so that people want to be better by being close to their excellence.
The kids have to define their own vision, in order to reach that excellence, you have to find that drive within yourself.
Will Smith teaches his kids about the concept of the group- and the necessity of adding to the family, then the neighborhood, then humanity.
Oprah says who knows what a million dollars can do? She knows what $29.99 can do.
A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:
Will Smith and family believe in greatness and achieving dreams through hard work, excellence and a roadmap to success.