Willow Smith
Source: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Willow Smith's Acting Evolution: A Dynamic Journey


Nov. 16 2023, Published 9:56 a.m. ET

Before we knew of Willow Smith's musical talents with hits like "Whip My Hair" and before she collaborated with musical stars such as Nicki Minaj, Avril Lavigne, and Tierra Helena Whack, we knew her as an actress. She made her acting debut quite early. Hence, the common perception is that she is an actor turned musician.

Spurred by Jaden Smith's acting exploits, she made her acting debut in 2007. In an interview with Collider, her father, Will Smith, said, "I think a big part of it is probably Jaden." He went on to describe Willow's motivation to join the family business, noting, "After The Pursuit of Happyness and she saw what Jaden did, she thought, 'I want that.'… With Willow, she just loves it."

Will also noted Willow's passion for and dedication to the craft, adding that "She just wants it, she has a drive, an energy," before concluding that "she just connects to human emotion."

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As Marley Neville in "I Am Legend"

I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic action thriller set in New York City released in 2007. Based on Richard Matheson's 1954 I Am Legend book, the movie featured Will Smith playing the leading role of Robert Neville, a scientist who must develop a cure to a virus that wipes out mankind while keeping safe in a world full of violent creatures.

Willow Smith made her acting debut as Marley Neville in this film, Robert Neville's daughter.

As Countee in ‘Kit Kittredge: An American Girl’

Willow made an appearance in the 2008 comedy-drama Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Based on the Kit Kittredge stories written by Valerie Tripp. Willow made her appearance as Countee as Will's sidekick. Along with Will, they depict a couple of hobos.

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As Young Gloria in ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’

In 2008, Willow Smith joined her mother in voicing characters on Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. This marked her foray into voice acting. Willow and her mother voiced Gloria (a hippopotamus) in the film, with Willow voicing the younger version of Gloria.

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Abby in ‘Merry Madagascar’

Willow continued voice acting in 2009, lending her voice to the character Abby in the Christmas special, Merry Madagascar. Willow was nominated for an Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Television Production.

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Young True in ‘True Jackson, VP’

Willow made her television debut as a guest star in True Jackson, VP, a Nickelodeon live-action comedy series. She played the younger version of the main character, True, who's played by Keke Palmer.

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Neo Yokio

She is also a regular voice actor in Neo Yokio, along with her brother, Jaden Smith. She voices the character, The Helenist.

Willow has also made guest appearances in A Man Named Scott and Saturday Night Live. Additionally, she has appeared as a guest voice actor in We Baby Bears and Adventure Time.

Finally, she is a co-host of the Red Table Talk. While it's not an acting role, the talk show gives us a peek into her beautiful mind.

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