stupid unobservant am I? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer that.) Um, yeah, so I just (like, just this minute while writing this piece) figured out that Jaden and Willow smith’s given names are tributes to their parents. Will/Willow. Jaden/Jada.
Okay. I know. It’s pretty damn obvious. But, whatever. I feel a wee bit smarter now that I figured that out.
(Anyone out there who didn’t get the Smith’s naming strategy until just now, please do leave a comment admitting it–it’ll help soothe my bruised ego.)
Anywaaaay, I said all that to introduce the fact that Jaden and Willow were both nominated for this year’s NAACP Image Awards–Jaden, for his starring role in the remake of The Karate Kid, and Willow for her hit single, Whip My Hair.
For these two cuties to have been raised by “Hollywood” parents with a combined net worth somewhere in the quarter of a billion dollar range, they seem relatively grounded and down-to-earth. (Though I do think Willow has the potential to get full of herself if her mama doesn’t rein in her little ego right quick.) Love you, Willow…but I’m just sayin’.
Jada and Will have gotten quite a bit of Internet flack recently for supposedly “pimping” their kids, and “depriving them of their childhoods,” but I don’t see any evidence of that here at all. These little Smiths are truly talented, and they seem to really love what they’re doing. And, why wouldn’t they? Though they do have to work hard and put in long hours to achieve the success they’ve enjoyed so far, they also have that huge and powerful SMITH MACHINE behind them, which has to make the whole experience that much sweeter.
Though they barely have 20 years on earth between them, both Smith kids seem to “get it” that they are privileged to have the parents they do, and they understand that most of the world doesn’t have they advantages they were born with. Their parents have done an excellent job of instilling this in them from a young age–not just by setting an example of what philanthropy and concern for community look like in action, but also by encouraging their children to become actively involved in charitable causes themselves.
Jaden and Willow have lent their names, images and time to Project Zambi, which supports children orphaned by AIDS in Africa,and Buy Life which provides medicine, food and shelter to millions of people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
If you’re wondering what the criteria for winning an NAACP Image Award are, read on:
1. Fair, Accurate, and Inclusive Representations Rather than portraying people of color in broad stereotypes, the project deals with the characters or themes in a fair, accurate, and multi-dimensional manner. Inclusive means that a broad spectrum of people of color is represented. This includes economic, geographic, and political diversity, as well as seniors, differently abled, youth, families, etc.
2. Boldness and Originality The project breaks new ground by exploring subject matter relevant to people of color in a way not traditionally explored, and handles the content in a fresh and original manner. Is this project “cutting-edge?”
3. Impact The project impacts society in a significant way. Does this project dramatically increase the cultural dialogue about issues that pertain to people of color? Or, does this project reach an idea that is not regularly exposed with regard to images and issues pertaining to people of color?
4. Overall Quality The overall quality of the project should be considered. A project which is of high quality production value adds impact, significance, and weight to the images and issues portrayed.
If my little daughter wanted to put a poster of either or both of these kids up on her bedroom wall, I would allow it. I think they stand for something positive, and so far their images are definitely uplifting and admirable.
I hope they both win.