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Meet the Smith family: Hollywood's hottest clan

14 SEPTEMBER 2010

Show business runs through the veins of the Smith family. Dad Will is one of Hollywood's most profitable leading men - a popular, well-liked actor who has a knack of starring in one box office hit after another.

And mum Jada is no less accomplished, having racked up a number of film roles all the while keeping her foot firmly in the music industry. And, of course, her husband famously began his career as a rapper.

But the spotlight looks in danger of shifting away from this famous couple – and it's all thanks to their children.

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First up, their 12-year-old son Jaden. He made his silver screen debut at the tender age of eight, starring alongside his father in The Pursuit of Happyness (pictured below). The film was a big hit – Will's sixth consecutive box office number one – and little Jaden was catapulted into the public eye, earning a 2007 MTV trophy for breakthrough performance, and presenting an award at the Oscars.

Unsurprisingly, the youngster soon got a taste for entertainment. In 2008, he expanded his resume with roles in two big movies – The Day the Earth Stood Still, with Keanu Reeves, and a remake of Karate Kid starring Jackie Chan. Knocking the likes of The A-Team off the top spot on its opening weekend, the latter cemented Jaden's position as the industry's hottest rising star.

Just like his parents, Jaden has also shown a love, and aptitude, for music. Not content to just appear in the film, he also featured in the Karate Kid's theme song, Never Say Never, rapping alongside another hot young star, Justin Bieber. 

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But if the family has a musical prodigy, it is undoubtedly little sister Willow. Having started in the film industry, the nine-year-old was recently signed to Roc Nation – a record label owned by Jay-Z, the man who had the foresight to sign Rihanna when she was a teen.

Following her brother's example, Willow made her film debut alongside Will, starring in the 2007 film, I Am Legend. A role in Kit Kitteredge followed before the young actress teamed up with her mum in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. But just like Jada – the 38-year-old is lead singer in rock band Wicked Wisdom – Willow has a real passion for music.

Despite not yet turning ten, she has already made her first hip-hop single, titled Whip My Hair. And it's become a big internet sensation, racking up more than 100,000 views on YouTube within the first day of its release.

Speaking about his latest signing, Jay-Z, who has compared Willow's vocals to those of Michael Jackson, recently commented: "I heard the record first before I know that it was recorded by a nine-year-old and I was like, man, that record's a smash."

 

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"When you have that sort of talent, there is no such thing as too young," he added.

It is the issue of age that frequently causes the Smiths to come under fire. Both Jaden and Willow have been accused of growing up too fast, with some critics condemning Will and Jada for pushing their children into the limelight. It cannot be argued that despite their years, both are successful entertainers already impressively seasoned at walking the red carpet.

But that desire for fame comes not from their parents, but from the youngsters themselves. Both Will and Jada, who accompany their children to all press events, have spoken at length about their offspring's ambition and drive.

And it is telling that both parents have had strong ties to Jaden and Willow's silver screen projects, helping to oversee and nuture their careers in what is a very adult business – Will and Jada also helped produce The Karate Kid.

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According to Will, his kids' exposure to fame through mum and dad has been invaluable. Speaking about his son, the superstar has said: "He grew up in this industry so it's not foreign to him. He doesn't have the shock and the radical life change that child actors usually have coming into the business."

And having world famous parents also means Willow and Jaden don’t suffer financial pressure either. "Child stars are generally broken by the pressure of being the bread winner of a household at 14 or 16 years old," he added. "I hope we have a bit of a handle on it."

What is clear is that for this tight-knit quartet, family comes first. Jada recently said of her children's foray into acting: it's "what they want for now. But if Jaden decides, 'You know what Ma? I really want to be a woodchopper,' then that's okay. My only dream is for my children to be happy."

So what do the young stars of the Smith family think about their life in the spotlight? Asked by Will how he thought mum and dad were doing "parenting-wise" at a recent press event, Jaden replied: "I think you should let me out more."

Clearly everything is just fine in this Hollywood household.

Click here to see Jayden and Willow's unique style

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