Will Smith was stunned after finding out the news that British muralist Richard Wilson would be constructing a mural of the actor in West Philadelphia. On July 1, Smith uploaded a video to YouTube showing the creation process and his mother’s and his own reaction to the 65-foot creation.
“The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadephia just wrecked me,” the rapper/actor/philanthropist said.
Smith was born and raised in West Philly and referenced his upbringing in the hit series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Throughout the video clip, his mother, community leaders and close friends speak about how the city shaped him into being the man he is today. They also talked about the importance of young children having access to his image every day out of their school window.
His image is painted on the wall of Gevurtz Furniture store sitting on a chair wearing a casual suit in a pair of Air Jordan IIIs. “If you’re interested in art you probably see a huge reference to the Kehinde Wiley portrait of Barack Obama,” Wilson said. The artist picked the location using Google maps and worked with Mural Arts Philadelphia and Global Leadership Academy Charter School to offer community engagement on the project, reports Philly Voice.
“You couldn’t have done any better if you tried. It’s perfect there is nothing you left out,” the actor’s awestruck mother, Carolyn Smith, said when she went to visit the work of art.
Will Smith has not yet seen the mural in person. However, he has created merchandise based on the painting, which can be purchased on Teespring.com/stores/willsmith, and will be donating all the proceeds from the purchases to the Global Leadership Academy Charter School.
Watch the video above.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.