Jaden and Willow Smith know you think they’re weird: they just don’t care.
When their famous New York Times T magazine interview dropped in November of last year, the two were painted as bizarre and ‘up in the clouds’ for getting philosophical and talking about quantum physics.
But at 17 and 14 years old, the siblings took those reactions in stride and built MSFTSrep, an entire creative collective (think music, clothing and art with friends) based on the fact that they don’t fit in.
“I definitely expected that,” Willow told us on Wednesday afternoon, speaking of the reaction to the NYT’s piece. Standing in front of wall-to-wall windows on the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, she commented that from way up high, Dubai’s streets look like human arteries. “Not a lot of people read books about quantum physics and watch documentaries about space-time.”
“That type of stuff is not thoroughly taught in schools,” Jaden agreed. “Young people, or any people, are not really educated on the quantum world or anything like that, so I can see why. People hate what they’re afraid of or what they don’t understand, and we know that, so we knew that would happen. To change the world you have to shock the world.”
Born to actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, the pair are incredibly easy to talk to. Jaden has collaborated with Justin Bieber, been linked to Kylie Jenner, and acted in big Hollywood films — The Pursuit of Happyness and the Karate Kid (“Maybe,” he says on whether or not there will be a sequel, but hints that he will go back into physical training soon). Willow acted, too, and made us all bang our heads to her debut single, Whip My Hair, back in 2010.
After a ten minute chat, the two prove to be spiritual, ambitious and completely approachable teenagers who are open to a good laugh. Willow tells me to keep growing out my “blonde afro” and Jaden jokes he was about to scare me out of my concentrated daze, if only I hadn’t seen him coming.
Tomorrow, they perform a gig and meet their fans at the Dubai Mall, at 5pm, as part of DSS Starz concert series. On Saturday, they’ll participate in a styling session and show off their exclusive Dubai clothing collection at the same venue.
But before that, Jaden tells tabloid! why he doesn’t care when people talk about his outfit choices, and Willow tells us why she falls asleep watching Fresh Prince.
What’s in the works for you right now?
Willow: My album.
Jaden: Willow’s album. There’s no title. There’s no release date. I’m also going to release an album, and many other people that are part of this collective (MSFTs) will be releasing an album, and then we’ll release a collective album. But you can expect new clothes.
The name MSFTS — do you guys consider yourselves misfits?
Jaden: 100 per cent. I think the whole world would now consider us misfits more than before. I think we do a lot of things that are out of the ordinary, so yeah, we’d consider us misfits.
Do you consider yourself political as well, or more spiritual?
Jaden: No, I don’t consider myself political at all. I wanna change the individual.
Willow: It’s all about the individual.
Jaden: I don’t wanna change the whole of like everything that’s already been established of — I don’t even like saying the word politics, [it’s] completely separate. I just wanna change the individual, and we have the internet so we can reach directly to the individual without needing anybody to explain what we’re saying, we can just reach straight to the individual. And going at the individual is how you change the whole. Going at the whole is too big of an idea. One person. One person at a time.
Jaden, people are always commenting on the dresses or skirts that you wear. Do you consciously try to break those boundaries?
Jaden: It’s just funny that now people care. It just shows you that before people didn’t care, that’s how I’ve always been, and now they do care, just because of [me] being a little more known in the world. The only reason I do that type of stuff is that I feel the opposite of them and I just don’t care, you know what I’m saying? Everybody’s always so, ‘Oh, I don’t wanna do this because of this’.
Willow: ‘I don’t wanna wear this because I’m a boy’, or ‘I’m a girl, and I need to act this type of way!’
Jaden: And like nobody ever thinks, ‘Yo, who made all these rules?’ Who was here and who made all these rules? Because I’m equally as smart as them, and I don’t necessarily agree with all the rules that they established before I came into the picture. We think these rules are just done deal things, it is what it is, set in stone, maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but we decide our own path and we decide our own rules, and that’s what MSFTs is all about.
When you’re in mainstream headlines, like Jaden with Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner, what do you guys think?
Jaden: I don’t know, I really don’t pay attention.
Willow: And it’s really just shallow. People just always want something to talk about. They just want some negativity to spread.
Jaden: Here’s the thing, people need to sell magazines and things, and if you’re putting young people down, it’s easier to sell magazines. I expect that from the world. It’s not a surprise. But it’s not something I pay attention to, either.
Growing up, Fresh Prince was so influential. Do you guys watch the show?
Jaden: We like it as much as anybody else. It’s the tightest show ever.
Willow: I watch it when I go to sleep, all the time.
Jaden: I mean, as much as a normal person would like Fresh Prince, that’s as much as we like Fresh Prince. It’s like — that’s our dad, but is it? No.
Is it weird seeing him up there?
Willow: It’s so cool seeing the progress. Seeing season one, where he would memorise everybody else’s lines and kind of murmur it, then say his lines. It’s so cool to see where he’s [come from].
Jaden: Because he was so nervous and he’d never been on TV, so he memorised everyone else’s lines, like that’s cool to see. Just to see how far he’s gone and what he’s still doing today. So tight.
How is he to work with? Is it stressful when he’s on set with you on a movie?
Jaden: Nah, he’s a fly dude. I prefer working with him than not. He can help you with things that other people can’t help you with. Imagine acting with your dad. When you need to pull an emotion, he’ll be like, ‘Well, remember this time when you were feeling like this? That’s what we need you to feel like right now.’ Nothing compares.
Everyone asks you what you’ve learnt from your parents. What do you think they’ve learnt from you?
Willow: They’ve definitely learned to go more with the flow.
Jaden: They would answer that question better, because we’re not them, but I know they’ve probably learned some crazy stuff.
Willow: I really feel that they learned more to go with the flow.
Jaden: Probably that, but they probably learned one hundred million other things, too. Things that we can’t remember. I don’t remember when I was five, you know what I’m saying?
Willow: Having a kid is like — I could never imagine. Having a life that you’re responsible for, it’s too much — you want them to experience everything they need to experience, but you also just want to hold them close to you forever, and just watch them grow. But they need to flower off and do their own thing.
What’s next when you leave Dubai?
Willow: I’m going into the studio. Continue writing my screenplay.
Jaden: We’re going to do all the stuff that we never tell anyone about and we’ll eventually release.