How Will Smith helped Jaden prepare for The Get Down
When Jaden Smith was prepping for his new TV series, he looked no further than to his own father Will Smith for advice.
The show is The Get Down, a Netflix original musical drama about hip-hop helmed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.
In a show where hip-hop culture, music, dance and fashion comes to the fore, the elder Smith's experience definitely made him well-equipped to offer a tip or two.
Smith's character, Dizzee, is a fledgling graffiti artist in The Get Down. PHOTO: NETFLIX
"The era of hip hop that he is familiar with begins some 15 years after the point that we are in the show. But he did tell me about how Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataaare pioneers of the genre," the younger Smith told The New Paper on a promotional trip for The Get Down in Tokyo last month.
Jaden Smith at The Get Down's promotional stop in Tokyo. PHOTO: NETFLIX
Incidentally, he was accompanying his father who was also in Tokyo to promote his movie Suicide Squad.
"My family are such fans of the show," gushed Smith, also referring to his actress mother Jada Pinkett Smith and actress-singer sister Willow.
"I was kind of born into hip-hop, it's in my blood. My mum and dad are both musicians, too. Hip-hop and rhythm are huge parts of our lives, especially because I'm African American and born in America. So I feel blessed to be part of this show," said the 18-year-old actor.
The Get Down depicts the birth of hip-hop in the dying days of disco and is set in South Bronx in the '70s.
The first part of the six-episode series, which debuted on Netflix on Aug 12, sees Jaden Smith star as Marcus "Dizzee" Kipling, a fledgling graffiti artist.
It also stars Justice Smith as the talented, romantic Ezekiel "Zeke" Figuero, Shameik Moore as DJ Shaolin Fantastic, Herizen F. Guardiola as aspiring singer Mylene Cruz and more.
We get Smith to dish all about his new show, including his influence on his character's outfit and his controversial kissing scene.
Dizzee was inspired, in part, by Smith's admitted "weirdness"
Smith is not your average teenager.
His celebrity parents aside, he's all about challenging gender norms, unafraid to dress up in skirts when he pleases and unapologetic about not always fitting in.
He agrees it's one of the most important things he shares with his on-screen character Dizzee - that they aren't exactly like "everybody else".
Smith said: "Dizzee stands out from everyone else and that's how I am. Put me with a bunch of regular kids and I will be the weird one. That is exactly what Dizzee is like in his clique."
Jaden Smith (far right) stars as a fledgling graffiti artist in The Get Down. PHOTO: NETFLIX
Smith's influence over Dizzee's one-of-a-kind wardrobe options
In the series' first episode, Smith - as Dizzee - dons an iconic Lee denim vest embellished with a bad-ass fur-trim collar and colourful vintage buttons with a graffiti back panel for a finishing touch.
It's the kind of thing that wouldn't look out of place on Smith, who became the face of Louis Vuitton 's spring-summer women's wear ad campaign earlier this year.
And if his character is sporting accessories like rings, spray painting gloves and bags, those decisions most likely have Smith's name written all over them.
"I will draw them out (for the wardrobe designer), discuss and then decide whether Dizzee's (outfits are complemented by extra details)," he said.
About that shocking same-sex kiss
In the last episode, a climactic drag ball scene sees Dizzee leaning in dangerously close towards fellow graffiti artist and pretty boy Thor, alluding to a liplock.
Smith quickly clarified that he and Noah Le Gros, who plays Thor, never kissed even if the scene suggested such.
"I was super resistant at first. I was pushing for that scene to be removed until I saw the value of it, especially going forward into the second part of the show. Don't you feel like you watch it and think Dizzee is one of the most memorable characters because he did something so different?" said Smith.
Interestingly enough, he calls it his "Fresh Prince meets Six Degrees of Separation" moment, referring to his father's popular '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the latter's 1993breakout film where he plays a gay con artist who shares a near-kiss with a co-star.
Who do we like better - Dizzee or Jaden Smith?
It's a tough call.
Dizzee might only be a supporting character, but it was impactful enough to make us notice and narrow him down as one of the show's more colourful characters.
On his character he said: "This is definitely one of the most well-rounded roles I've taken on. It was great working with Baz because he was bringing the right people together to make the show and that really attracted me to this.
"I've learnt so much... everything from graffiti to turn-tabling and breakdancing."
As for Smith?
We've all heard plenty about him, his oddball personality and "crazy" talk but Smith was, for lack of a better word, somewhat adorable.
His eyes light up when he talks about something that excites him, his laughter filling the room.
He's a ball of infectious energy and trust me, when it comes to teen stars and interviews, it's as rare as a unicorn.
Want to get to know him? Take a look at his personal Instagram account, which he says is a space where he expresses himself.
"To be me is to me creative, courageous and confident... loving and giving. The beauty of being a human being is that we have the potential to be everything and anything," he said.