Will Smith became tearful as he spoke about a mural tribute to him in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a video post on Sunday (01Jul18).
In a video posted to Instagram, the Men in Black star spoke about the 65-foot artwork, which is painted on a building across from the city’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School, by London-born artist Richard Wilson.
The mural, which depicts Smith sitting in a chair, an obvious reference to African-American artist Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama, was unveiled last month. And although Will has yet to see it in person, he became emotional as he shared his thoughts on the honour, which he called “wildly humbling”.
“The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in west Philadelphia just wrecked me,” he began. “When I was coming up there was this a mural of Julius Erving, Dr. J was everything in Philly… I remember what that did to ignite that fire and desire for elevation.
“To think that Richard Wilson and the Global Leadership Academy think that I’m deserving of being on that wall is just wildly humbling,” he said, before wiping away tears.
In the caption besides the video, Will thanked Wilson, who found the wall for the mural on Google Maps, adding: “I am Humbled & Honored! Hey, Philly… I’ll be Home SOON to See it in-person.”
In a longer video clip, which Will posted to his YouTube channel, the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star’s mother is seen viewing the mural, and tells Wilson: “You couldn’t have done any better if you’d tried. It’s perfect, there’s nothing that you left out.”
The artist, who has painted portraits of stars including Missy Elliot and Yara Shahidi, added he hoped it would inspire children to do something incredible with their lives.
“If you’re a kid here, growing up now and you see this every day it can give you a real understanding that this guy is me,” he said. “He lived here, he grew up here, he had the same chances as me, the same possibilities as me, the same everything, and he’s being painted on a wall because he’s done something incredible with his life.”
Will has created merchandise of the mural, including vests, T-shirts and hoodies, as a thank you to Wilson and the school, who will receive 100 per cent of the proceeds.