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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Jaden and Willow Smith talk about their view of the UAE and future plans

The teen stars talk about depression, creating new ideologies, and why they hate school.
Willow, left, and Jaden Smith at Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Willow, left, and Jaden Smith at Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Teen stars Jaden and Willow Smith hope to make a movie in the UAE.

This was just one of many projects the ambitious offspring of Hollywood superstars Will and Jada Pinkett Smith revealed after arriving for a week’s stay in the emirates, during in which they will perform at a free gig at The Dubai Mall on August 13.

The day before, Jaden, 17, and Willow, 14, held a press conference on the 112st floor of the Burj Khalifa, surrounded by plastic clouds and floating balloons – a fitting location to hear about the pair’s sky-high ambitions.

The celebrity siblings have already starred alongside their famous father in major Hollywood movies such as The Pursuit of Happyness and After Earth (Jaden) and I Am Legend (Willow).

They have also released hit singles (Willow’s debut single Whip My Hair was streamed 100 million times – she was nine at the time), and designed their own fashion line, MSFTs.

However there’s plenty more where that came from.

“We want to continue to help the world, and continue to release products to help the world,” says Jaden. “The world is such a stressful, hard place that I see us making a really big impact at a very young age.”

Future projects include three albums – one each, plus one together with their MSFTSrep creative project – and more movies. Willow revealed she is writing her first screenplay, while Jaden teased numerous acting roles, including another Karate Kid movie, a sequel to his 2010 remake of the 1984 original.

“We’re breaking away from all ideologies,” said Willow.

After the press conference, The National sat down with the precocious young stars for an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Welcome to Dubai. This is your third day here – what have you been up to?

Willow: I’ve been walking around going to the huge malls, looking at the big aquariums.

Jaden: I went to the big mall [The Dubai Mall, we think] at 2am and there were toddlers walking around – wow, they should be asleep.

Willow: It’s so hot right now, it’s almost unbearable – but not too unbearable.

Willow, this is your first time in Dubai, is it as good as your Dad and brother said it would be?

Willow: Yes, yes, it completely is. I had no expectations, I just thought it sounded like the most next-level place, I rolled up and I was like “100 per cent”.

Jaden, it’s your second time here. We know you had a good time on your last visit, in February 2013, because we all saw the photos.

Jaden: Skydiving [at SkyDive Dubai] was the best part. I loved it – loved it.

Would you say the worst part was getting chucked out of VIP Room [for being underage] when your brother, Trey, was DJing?

Jaden: No, I don’t even remember that happening. That didn’t happen. I know what you’re talking about, we went... no, we didn’t, just my Dad went.

Willow: Maybe Daddy got chucked out of the VIP Room [laughs].

Let’s go way back. When did you first realise you had a gift?

Jaden: I feel like it’s not so much a gift as being allowed to do the things...

Willow: … and having to do the things that we’ve done. When you grow up in front of the camera, you kind of have to get used to it.

Jaden: It’s not even have to, you just naturally do. Anybody put in [our] circumstances, and allowed to be this creative and free, they would do the same thing.

You’ve said before you’re not fans of mainstream education...

Willow: I went to regular school for one whole year just to see what it would be like. Before I went I would always [say], “It suppresses you, it’s not really teaching you what you need to know, it’s basically BS”. And then I went and I realised it was actually [like] that, truly. You can say a lot of stuff, but once you truly been there and experienced, you just know.

So it was worse than you expected?

Willow: Yes – every day I was depressed. I would always ask “Why are we doing this, what is the reason” and the teacher would just be like, “Pass the test, just pass the test” – even the teachers were not really into it. I was 13.

Jaden, did you ever go to a mainstream school?

Jaden: Luckily I didn’t. I was blessed, so blessed – but I did see the pain Willow went through. I did try to convince her not to, but she was dead set on going.

Willow: Experiences, man.

Jaden: I went to normal preschool and then I cried, I’m still traumatised from it.

You’ve always had a great control over your life – you were trying to get the legal right to move out of the family home at 15.

Jaden: I was – but that was me at 15, trying to be funny. My parents have a big enough house for me to just live alone.

And your Dad said he would let you move when you had a bigger movie than he did.

Jaden: Oh yeah, he said that [laughs].

Do you think that will happen – will you guys ever be bigger than your parents?

Jaden: I have no idea. We do a lot of stuff that our parents would never think of doing, like designing clothes.

Willow: I don’t think we’re going to be bigger, but I think we’re going to be hell-a-different.

Jaden: We already are. We don’t think of things in terms of bigger or more famous, we just care about inspiration and creativity.

You don’t feel the need to break away from their image – you don’t feel suffocated by it?

Willow: I feel like the things we’re doing, we’re breaking away from all ideologies. That’s really what [music collective and fashion label] MSFTS is about to me – breaking yourself away from all those ideologies and those things which are put on you.

So where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Willow: Astral-projecting somewhere.

Jaden: Totally disappearing from public view, completely. Hiding somewhere where no one will ever know where we are.

But you’re on this great ascent right now.

Jaden: We want to continue to help the world, and continue to release products to help the world – the world is such a stressful hard place that I see us making a really big impact at a very young age, and then being gone.

Willow, I understand you’ve written several novels, do you think any of that work will be published?

Willow: Oh yeah, I do. I’m working on a screenplay right now. I’m trying to develop it. It’s like really hard – but I’m chugging along. It’s confidential right now.

Jaden: It’s not even live action, it won’t even be shot with, like, cameras.

Do you think you two might ever star in a movie together?

Willow: In the future, yeah.

Jaden: Probably, if a script comes along or we write a script good enough.

You both had a very early start with movies alongside your father – in The Pursuit of Happyness and I Am Legend. Is it surreal looking back at the kids acting in those movies?

Jaden: Those were probably the best roles we ever did. You [Willow] in I Am Legend – the director had to tell her to stop crying.

Willow: I just kept on crying.

Jaden: Which never happens, you always have to tell the actors to cry.

Willow: But I haven’t really acted a lot, I haven’t really had that many experiences.

Jaden: She’ll probably act when we’re directing the movie ourselves.

Give me one line to describe both of your personalities.

Jaden: For me, I would say “creative”, and for her “creative”, because I could write a book about her and I could write a book about me, but the thing I take most pride in is how creative we are and how driven we are to get our ideas in the real world.

Willow: I would say “eccentric and transcendental”, for both of us – we’re both eccentric, transcendental human beings.

Jaden and Willow Smith perform on August 13 at The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Catwalk at 4.30pm, followed by a meet and greet. They will also host a styling session on August 15 at 7pm. Both events are free to attend

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Updated: August 12, 2015 04:00 AM

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