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Will Smith Calls Racism Uncommon

The Hollywood Reporter held it’s highly regarded “Actor Roundtable” and sat down with some A-List actors including Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Caine, and Will Smith.

The group discussed everything from racism to peeing in the sink, but the best part of it all was probably Will Smith and all of the jewels he was dropping all over the round table.

When the roundtable discussion turned to race, Smith took it as an opportunity to clarify his understanding of racism and prejudice and how they differ from each other.

Smith explained that he and his wife, the gorgeous Jada Pinkett Smith, were just having a similar conversation and decided to consult the dictionary on prejudice versus racism.

“Everybody is prejudiced. Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another — it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white.”

After breaking down some norms that we generate based off of life experiences, 

Smith explained why racism is profoundly different from prejudice and how he’s experienced them both.

“But there is a connotation with racism of superiority: You feel that your race generally is superior. And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare — someone who thinks their race is superior. I don’t want to work for them. I don’t want to work at that company. And the times I have come in contact with it, you get away from those people.

Smith even went on to express how he believes actors have the power to make a significant impact on how people view race in the world.

READ: Playwright Reacts to White Actor Being Cast As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!

“Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward. What we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds. So when I’m choosing a movie, I understand the global power of being able to send imagery around the world. A large part of the way that America is viewed globally is from the historical imagery that we have sent around the world through cinema. Any time I put something in the world, I am always connecting to an idea. I’m always asking, “Why am I making this?” With Concussion, Dr. Bennet Omalu was deeply connected to tell the truth. And he said that truth doesn’t have a side. I thought that was such a powerful idea. Whose side are you on? Are you a Republican or a Democrat? I’m just trying to tell the truth. The truth doesn’t have a side.We talked, we met, we sat for hours and hours about it. I wanted to make that movie so badly, but I felt the only way was, it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story. I don’t believe in violence as the reaction to violence. So when I’m looking at that, it’s like: “No, no, no. It has to be for love.” We can’t look at what happens in Paris [the terrorist attacks] and want to f— somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. So I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.”

Smith’s upcoming film Concussion is generating a lot of media buzz!

Smith himself explained his own inner conflict with taking on the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu telling GQ, “As an actor, you live for that type of delicious peculiarity. He is such a unique being. As an actor, I was excited. But as a lover of football, I was conflicted. I was almost called to be an activist against myself.”

From Smith’s statements, it’s clear he really takes time to think about some of his roles and the impact he has as an actor. 

Check out the trailer for Concussion and decide for yourself! 

Ariel Leconte

Ariel Leconte

Ariel is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and creator of Revolutionary In Pink Pumps blog. She is equally obsessed with social justice, lipstick, culture, and red wine.