How owing the IRS led Will Smith to do 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Jeremy Belanger
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

“Before I was getting in trouble with Uncle Phil, I was in trouble with Uncle Sam,” says Will Smith. The actor revealed the crazy story of how he became the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith has been releasing “Storytime” episodes on his YouTube channel, and this did not disappoint.

Smith said that he made and spent a lot of money when his song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was released, but when his next album flopped, he ran into a problem: The IRS told Smith he didn’t pay his taxes and was “broke, broke, broke.”

“Being famous and broke is a s***ty combination,” Smith recalled.

Feeling as if he were at a dead end, Smith’s girlfriend at the time told him to hang out where people are “doing it.”

So, Smith explained that he just hung out at the “Arsenio Hall Show,” which proved to be a great strategy. He met Benny Medina, a producer who was working on what would become The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The two went to a party at legendary music producer Quincy Jones’s house. Jones handed Smith a pilot script and insisted on an impromptu audition for the head of NBC at the time. Upon Jones’s insistence, a deal was struck at the party that night.

So, we have Uncle Sam to thank for Will Smith landing on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Watch Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s ex-wife get emotional over their blended family:

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