Jaden born for role in Netflix's hip-hop TV series
WHEN Jaden Smith was prepping for his new TV series, he looked no further than to his own actor-rapper father Will Smith for advice.
The show is The Get Down, a much-hyped Netflix original musical drama helmed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.
In a series where hip-hop culture, music, dance and fashion come to the fore, the elder Smith is well-equipped to offer a tip or two.
After all, the 47-year-old was best known as the rapper The Fresh Prince in the late 1980s before Hollywood came a-calling.
The younger Smith, 18, told The New Paper on a promotional trip for The Get Down in Tokyo last month: "The era of hip-hop that he is familiar with begins some 15 years after the point that we are in the show."
He was accompanying his father who was also in Tokyo to promote his supervillain movie Suicide Squad.
"I was kind of born into hip-hop, it's in my blood.
"Hip-hop and rhythm are huge parts of our lives, especially because I'm African-American and born in America," said Smith, whose mother is US actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
The Get Down, set in South Bronx in the 1970s, depicts the birth of hip-hop in the dying days of disco.
The first part of the six-episode series, which debuted on Netflix on Aug 12, sees Smith play Marcus "Dizzee" Kipling, a fledgling graffiti artist.
It also stars Justice Smith as the talented, romantic Ezekiel "Zeke" Figuero, Shameik Moore as DJ Shaolin Fantastic, and Herizen F. Guardiola as aspiring singer Mylene Cruz.
Viewers might find that Dizzee's off-kilter personality bears strong resemblance to Smith's.
Smith, often painted as an oddball in the media for challenging gender norms, dresses up in skirts and is unapologetic about not always fitting in.
He said: "Put me with a bunch of regular kids and I will be the weird one. That is exactly what Dizzee is like in his clique."
But during our interview, it was surprising to see how "un-weird" and adorable Smith - who has starred in Hollywood flicks like The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006), The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008), The Karate Kid (2010) and After Earth (2013) - is.
His eyes light up when he talks about something that excites him, his laughter filling the room.
The Get Down has further thrust Smith into the spotlight and, evidently, this has its drawbacks.
Back in July, a vicious rumour that he had committed suicide spread online.
"I will never find out how it started so I didn't care," he said.
THE NEW PAPER