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Will Smith conquered crowd fears with mall food court table speech

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Jun 02, 2013 | 5:37pm EDT

Will Smith conquered his fear of crowds by hitting shopping mall food courts and announcing his arrival. The Men in Black star wasn't always the super-confident star he has become and admits he once had a crippling fear of open spaces full of people. Speaking at a recent Mamarazzi event in New York, Smith explained, "I always had a thing with crowds and probably about seventh grade I would walk into this place called The Gallery Mall in Philadelphia and I would just walk in and it would sometimes take me two hours to do it. I would just go to the food court and I would say, 'Could I have everybody's attention please! My name is Will Smith. You don't know me right now but one day you're gonna know me. Thank you!' "That was such a little thing, but that feeling that you get... you'll never have anything that's more terrifying than that... (You should) train yourself to confront those things and it's something you got to do every day. Then when a real-life situation comes up you're used to confronting that terrified part of yourself." But his way of dealing with crowd fears didn't always work out - thanks to his sharp wit and fast mouth. He explained, "My first day at my new high school didn't go well. I walked into the cafeteria, it was my first day at school and I go, 'He's here now guys!' A guy looked at me and said, 'Man, nobody care if you're here!' I made the critical mistake of saying, 'Don't worry, your girlfriend will care in a few minutes!' "The guy got so angry that he hit me, so six stitches later, what I learned is how much power your words have for every single person you come in contact (with). My words made that guy so furious that he hit me. I realised if you can do that and have a negative reaction, what could you do to have a positive reaction?"

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