TO Willow Smith (California, 2000) we discovered her in the movie ‘I am a legend’; he was 7 years old and drawing butterflies with his hands on the back of a car driven by his father on screen and in real life, Will Smith, while trying to flee New York before an extremely contagious disease hit the city and the rest of the globe. Yes, a pre-pandemic story… In 2010, we could see her singing energetically in the video clip for her first single, Whip My Hair (me desmeno), in which she gesticulated and painted the gray walls of a depressing dining room with her braids. During a promo on the Oprah Winfrey show, the very young star explained in this way, and with impressive aplomb, the meaning of her song: “Let your hair down means being yourself, not caring what other people think, doing what you think is good for you.”
And that attitude spread through the Nano iPods of teenagers around the world. Today Willow is 21 years old, has a long career in the music industry and a resounding philosophy. «It is very important to convince yourself that you are unique, powerful and beautiful, that you learn to be faithful to the person you really are», explains by phone from his home in Malibu. To his resume he has added his work as Mugler Alien Goddess perfume image. When I ask her what pushed her to say yes to this role, she talks about the values she shares with the firm, historically inclusive, avant-garde and just a touch quirky. “I’ve always seen myself as someone who likes to challenge the status quo, question social norms. I try not to blindly follow the rules, not stay in my comfort zone. I never stop exploring new things either, I love it!”, she exclaims, deep into her role as ambassador. And adds: «So, when they asked me from the brand if I wanted to embody an “alien goddess”, I replied: “Of course! It’s obvious!”». Graceful and, at the same time, athletic, with a long neck and large, deep, almond-shaped eyes, Willow has a warm demeanor with a touch of haughty, and she could indeed be from another galaxy..
It is not hard to imagine her as a woman who has come from a different place, as someone who has fallen to Earth with the mission of bringing peace among our species, healing the planet and acting as an equal queen. Of course, your to-do list would be endless. Because the pandemic and the successive confinements (which she claims to have taken advantage of to “concentrate on music”), have not exactly helped to improve the emotional state – already on the surface – of the population. When the situation for the covid-19 got serious, in the winter of 2020, Smith had just shelved an artistic performance entitled The Anxiety, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MoCA), and she was locked in a glass cubicle in the midst of a creative storm with her fellow sufferer, Tyler Cole: focused on recording a new album and experimenting with various artistic disciplines, they had set out to explore the spectrum of emotions (paranoia, rage, sadness, euphoria, compassion…) through introspection and changes of mood, without obstacles. However, within a few days the entire world became a cage full of anxiety. “Of course, Tyler and I had not anticipated what ended up happening, but our performance and the album that followed it – called The Anxiety, like the MoCA intervention – hit the bullseye”, he admits. Released on March 13, 2020, the LP went unnoticed (nothing unusual if we take into account that the only focus of attention at that time was the coronavirus), but offers a moving testimony about the fears and anguish of generation Z, who no longer had a very bright future before the pandemic and that, to top it off, has seen its present drastically cut.
Despite everything, Willow, loyal to herself, did not stop during 2020. Nor did she take a break in 2021, the year in which she presented Lately I Feel EVERYTHING. With an equally evocative title, it is a set of 12 songs that move away from the R&B and pop of his previous compositions; there are powerful guitars and forceful rhythms, and the artist shows a more adult image, almost gothic. In the music video for her energetic first single, Tr ans -parent Soul, her look evokes the look worn by her mother, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, in 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded. A mother who knows what it is to make noise, as she was a singer and guitarist for the hard rock group Wicked Wisdom. “As a child, I would sometimes accompany her when she went on tour,” recalls Willow, “that’s how I discovered this kind of music. Contemplating her on stage, so beautiful and powerful, marked me for life»On his journey back in time, Smith also dusts off less sweet moments. “I saw my mother receive a lot of misogynistic and racist insults», he says, without forgetting that, in the first decade of this century, an important part of the metal scene was mostly white and male. “It’s no secret to anyone that there have always been more difficult environments for black women. But I don’t want to complain; I prefer to focus on the positive, on progress. I feel very comfortable in rock». After all, the creators of the genre were the African-Americans in the 50s, with Chuck Berry and Little Richard at the forefront and with female names as relevant as that of the virtuous Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Willow Smith knows her place very well, and she’s not the kind of person to be fooled. Although she herself claims not to have suffered racist attacks, she came close to hating music as a result of her excessive – and too early – public exposure. One night, while on tour opening for Justin Bieber, at just 10 years old, he collapsed in the middle of a concert in Dublin. Exhausted, she left the stage and blurted out to her father, Will, who was waiting backstage: “It’s over, dad, I can’t take it anymore”. Baffled, the actor first tried to convince her to come back, but ended up realizing that his daughter needed a break. That night, the man who played the unforgettable Fresh Prince of Bel-Air realized that childhood is precious and not worth sacrificing for fame. Willow, for her part, learned to listen to her own voice.
Last spring, the young artist decided the time had come to come out and come out as bisexual and polyamorous. If most people do it, for example, during a family meal, she preferred to announce it, live and with her family, on Red Table Talk, her interview talk show on Facebook Live, a space in which she regulates -mente tackles current affairs with his mother and grandmother (Adrienne Banfield Norris). It is not known if they had been warned before the broadcast of the program, but, in any case, they took it very well, although Adrienne had a little trouble with the idea of loving more than one person at a time. The youngest of the Smiths is considered “lucky to have an understanding and tolerant family»; he is aware of his privileged position in this sense, and sees his act as an example for others (modesty is not his strong point, although his sin is forgiven). «I released it in the most direct way possible, with absolute confidence, to show that it is possible and that it is the most natural thing. And to make it clear that nobody, whoever they are, has anything to say about it». So, he launches a prophetic-sounding message: «I believe that the day will soon come when we will be able to stop lying to ourselves; we will begin to be honest with ourselves, we will accept each other. I am convinced that it will happen”. Because of his passion, his hypersensitivity, his lack of cynicism and his concern for the self-esteem of each individual, Willow Smith is a symbol for her generationn. Outraged at the injustices, her intention is to change the world with her art, but first she has to start by changing herself.
And there it is, centered on the reading of the Bhagavad Gita (a text on Hindu doctrines), the daily practice of yoga (although it has been parked lately) and the interest in the philosophy of time and quantum physics (whose fundamentals he soaked up after seeing interstellar). They are the vehicles that help her explore the secrets of the human soul and the universe. However, this admirer of the environmental activist Greta Thunberg (with whom her older brother, Jaden, is very close) is aware that only a true collective movement will transform society. “When you have so many resources, the best thing you can do is dedicate them to large-scale change. It may sound cliché, but it is so, whether we like it or not. Whatever my personal situation, whatever my difficulties, I do everything in my power to help others», to the point that, if it were not so, no “it would allow me to relax”. Do you then perceive yourself as an icon? He rejects the word because he considers it “too abstract.” «You see –he continues–, we would have to find a term that integrates the defects, the imperfections of the ego. I would accept that.”. Probably therein lies the secret of Willow Smith’s success: we treat her like a goddess from another galaxy and she is the one who reminds us that she is, simply, human.