Tween star Willow Smith was featured in Uk’s newspaper The Sunday Times last month. Below is a snippet from the article feature, in which a journalist who works for The Sunday times recounts meeting Willow Smith for the first time:
That Willow was born to be a star isn’t really in question. Fame is written into her DNA, because the family are not merely stars, but their own constellation Luckily, Jada is there, direct, connected, maternal, milling among the team, walking Willow’s dog, Lil’ Homie, who has accompanied her on the shoot, or preparing a plate of food for her.
Mummy and Daddy Smith, though, have copped some flak, in between the ooohs and aaahhhs over their delicious children, for having taken the concept of hot-housing the showbiz gene and stepped it up a whole new gear. She’s accused of being the ultimate pushy showbiz mum, but I’m impressed by her warmth, her manners and her connection with Willow throughout the day.
How ya feeling, Jada?” someone asks. “Oh, crazy,” she replies, fluffing her magnificent mane of ink-black hair. “Like I do every time she does something.”
Because I’ve been told not to talk about it, school is the first thing that comes into my head when Jada steps over to introduce herself. She doesn’t miss a beat. “Every day she’s learning something that’s not on a specific curriculum,” she replies carefully. Normally, she assures me, Willow’s tutor would be right by her side all the time, although how any 10-year-old can learn their times tables in between recording pop videos, I don’t know. But Jada assures me that both Willow and her brother, Jaden, who is an actor, are learning about life — the kind of life they will lead — all the time, and she has a point. “It’s all a learning experience. Being part of the family she’s from, and working in the industry she’s chosen, she needs some guidance. So I’m here to teach her how to look after herself later. I mean today is school, right?” Anyway, as a Smith, does Willow actually need to know her tables, to be able to spell?
We watch as Willow poses, dances and smiles at the camera. When she passes for yet another outfit change, Jada grabs her, and Willow shakes my hand and smiles again, a big bubble-gum smile that looks well practised. Any parent who can get their child to shake hands and make eye contact with a new adult will know it’s not an innate quality, but one that has to be learnt with repeated practice and hefty parental prompting.
I’m impressed, I tell Jada. How do you get her to obey the rules? Jada looks surprised. “Rules? We don’t have rules,” she replies. “We come up with agreements. Kids are little people, and we’re in life to guide them. Trying to rule someone is always an illusion, and it’s no different with children.” Jada and Willow don’t fight, but they have altercations, like when Willow made herself a Myspace page. “I’d told her not to, so I was so mad. I said, ‘What do you think I should do now?’ So Willow said, ‘Mom, take my computer away.’ And I said, ‘How long for?’ She said a month. So it’s negotiations. I’m not saying it’s always perfect. I have my bloops and my blunders. But I’m doing my best.” This all sounds like clever parenting, the kind of stuff any parent who has argued with the iron will of a young daughter will understand.
During the long shoot, Willow does four big outfit changes, transforming from ghetto girl to rock’n’roll kid, preppy punk to romantic princess. That’s a long day, a lot of pressure for a little girl, I say to Jada. It must be quite a thing, preventing Willow from getting exhausted, from crashing and burning before she’s even hit puberty. “Willow isn’t the breadwinner. Most times in this situation, a kid is supporting herself and an entire family,” Jada says, looking straight at me. “She’s not doing this to support a family, so she can do as much or as little as she wants to. When this shoot is finished, we’ll go straight home, then Willow can do exactly what she wants.”.
The entire interview can be found in The Sunday Times newspaper(December issue)