Book Reviews

The Spotlight: A Review of ‘WILL’ the Book by Will Smith


The only thing that’s better than reading a great fictional narrative is reading a true story that’s as interesting and stimulating as fiction. What Will Smith did with his life and his book is epic. Legendary…

Yes, y’all, I’m diving straight into my review of this most amazing book I’ve read in like…ever! I’m not even trying to suck up or anything. I was over impressed with Will’s memoir.

Will Smith, who needs no introduction, is a master story teller. Like, he knows how to TELL a story and infuse it with his entire personality, bringing it to life so that you can just imagine everything and get the picture. But according to his memoir, this was his gift since childhood… Telling stories, pretending, entertaining, laughing, and just making fun. The way he described his personality and how he discovered his calling into entertainment should shake up any parent who has a boisterous kid and keeps trying to get them to be chill… Sometimes, we are the ones who stifle and suppress our children’s creative development.

That was my no 1 lesson! I think I’ve got a kid like that, and I’m really going to need wisdom to help him be all that he is meant to be.

I think another ingredient that was essential to his success was that he knew what he wanted early, and he was determined. He had a strong mind and was not easily discouraged by the unbelief of others. He also had his Gigi, who saw his light and encouraged him to glow. Even his mom used to entertain his stories and play, even though she was very academically minded and opposed him when he wanted to quit school to become a rapper.

A third and very important factor was his training from his dad. Though he was an abusive man, he played a pinnacle role in instilling discipline in young Willard, his namesake. The first story that opened up the whole book, The Wall, was explosive. It was like a mega gem, reading that and getting the lesson from the get go. Will narrated how his dad used him and his brother to build a wall to save money, but also to teach them a life skill and an important lesson. When they had finally completed the job, nearly a year later, their father said, “Now, don’t y’all ever tell me there’s something you can’t do.”

That lesson, the book title – WILL, the author’s name – Will, and the many messages that Will shares in his memoir continue to resonate and send a powerful message that if we are determined and disciplined enough, there’s nothing that can get in the way of our success. I was gingered from the get go.

There was never a dull moment reading this book. It was loaded. And there was no story cited that was unnecessary to the whole narrative. It was a story excellently told and edited.

Will opens the door wide as he invites the reader into his world; his family life, his mind, his heart, his soul, his community, his dreams. He tells it without holding back, while still being sensitive and intelligent. There are times that he is so honest and real that it comes off a little pompous, but he is such a human! So relatable. There’s no forming here. He knows he is a world famous movie star… He’s not trying to make you forget that, only for you to imagine life through his eyes, beliefs, ambitions, and expectations. It was a privilege to read his book and get to know him so intimately.

But I did wonder… How does he remember all these details??? Will Smith recounted whole conversations, decades old, like he had a recording of it all… He must have the most amazing memory… Well, he sure does to have memorised so many lines, and even the lines of his co-stars in his TV series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In his desire to succeed, he demanded so much of himself and gave 100% dedication to his art. His desire was to surpass the next guy. To be the best. The greatest movie star in the world. And statistics of his achievements shows that he accomplished this goal.

But then, he suffered the existentialist crisis – why doesn’t all this make me happy?

I don’t know why I was shocked when I got to this part of the book. I was so impressed by his discipline and attitude to life. The lessons he shared resonated, challenged me…and he got results! He was winning and excelling in all his endeavours. But his family life, the core of the person, was suffering. Those around him were miserable despite all they enjoyed, and he soon realised that he was also miserable, because their dissatisfaction made him feel inadequate and like a failure, rather than the superstar he thought he was. This began his search for a deeper connection and meaning. His real life ‘pursuit of happiness’!

I should have seen it coming, because it is a truth all Christians should know – “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul…?” – Jesus.

I have a feeling this is what Nelson Mandela wanted to talk to Will Smith about when he invited him severally to spend time with him. But Will let his inadequacies prevent him from making the time and recounted that it was a regret of his life not to have honoured Mandela’s invitation. But even without Mandela, his grandma, who he fondly called Gigi, was a lightbearer too, who believed that loving others was the purpose of our existence.

So, when things began to fall apart, and all his efforts to control his life and the peace of his home backfired, Will Smith had to learn to let go and let God! How profound.

Ultimately, the story doesn’t end or lead to Will falling at the feet of Jesus or exalting Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He had a spiritual experience involving a medicine known as Ayahuasca – ‘The Vine of the Soul,’ which led him to a spiritual being he calls ‘Mother.’ This experience, which he has repeated over the years, has been his enlightenment about life and happiness. And it’s all the salvation the reader can hope to learn about from reading Will’s memoir.

But his story isn’t over yet. We can hope for more from Will… The way he wrote the book, I believe he anticipated that it would be made a film. It really deserves to be. And I hope by that point, he will use his massive platform to let the world know where true salvation comes from.

I got soooo much from this book. I hope to read it again. It took me a long time because it was meaty, and I really didn’t want to rush it, plus there were other things going on in my life. I shared some lessons and screenshots on Instagram, showing some of the profound messages in the book. But there were more. I would hate to do him a disservice of sharing too much. As an author, I would encourage you to go get this book yourself.

I loved his writing style, the book layout, the humour and personality he poured into it, his sincerity and candid reporting, and all the secrets to success he shared so powerfully and easily.

One that I will not forget in a long time is his meeting with Quincy. The quote – “No paralysis through analysis!” The lesson – The power decisions are made when the powerful are living and interacting, not in the office and boardrooms, as we tend to think. Thanks for that eye-opening tip.

On a final note; Will, I love you! Before reading your memoir, I admired you. I misunderstood you. But you brought me into your world with your heart and mind-blowing story, and now, I am one of your biggest fans! It’s good to see you’re human just like us, learning as you go along and giving your all into this life you have been gifted. My prayer for you is that at the end of time, when you stand before God, He will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Enter the rest of your Master.

And so shall it be… God bless you. God bless us all.

By the way, Will… To answer your question; it was kinda funny, but I agree with Jada – you play too much!

Check out TWELVE LESSONS I GLEANED FROM WILL SMITH’S MEMOIR

Check out more book reviews on The Spotlight!

Photo credit: http://www.canva.com

If you liked this post, you might like THE SPOTLIGHT: A REVIEW OF “SAPIENS” BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI

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2 replies »

  1. Yes, Will is really an admirable person. The Fresh Prince of Bell Air was my introduction to his person – humourous, and playful.

    You have done justice to the review of the book so much so that I’m now eager to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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