Will Smith turns into the Fresh Prince of Brixton!
- 12 March 2013
- From the section Student reports
What started off as an ordinary Thursday at school - rushing to lessons, handing in homework and gossiping with friends - turned into an event that will stay with us for a very long time.
Little did we know what would emerge within the next hour. As deputy head girl, I had the privilege to meet the famous Hollywood A-lister beforehand and welcome him to our school.
Mrs Lesley Morrison, our head teacher, broke it to us that Will Smith would be making a special guest appearance at our school today. I simply did not believe her at first. I even had to pinch myself for a few moments, wondering why I was not waking up from this dream.
As soon as he walked through the door, I realised that it was real. I was living a dream. Will Smith himself greeted me with a very cool and calm American style "Hello" and the warmest smile!
It got even better when he reached out for a hug. I couldn't believe it. I stood there, frozen like a statue, bewildered by the fact Will Smith was right in front of me, signing autographs and posing for our photos.
The rest of the students were summoned to the assembly hall after break-time. Everyone was buzzing with curiosity, wondering what was going on. Would it be a lecture from the head teacher? Would it be a school inspection? Was snowy weather on its way back? It was none of these - it was the Fresh Prince himself coming to talk to us all.
As soon as he walked on to the stage accompanied by local Labour MP Chuuka Umunna, Will was welcomed by an outburst of ecstatic girls and staff. The cheer seemed endless. I'm sure that the majority of vocal chords were damaged! No one could believe that he was actually there and the assembly hall broke out again in cheers of joy.
He waved, laughed, said it was the best welcome he'd had in England so far and told us he was visiting the UK while his son Jaden Smith was on tour with Justin Bieber.
Will told us he was very happy to be here at our school and to visit the local area of Brixton.
What surprised everyone in the hall was the fact that he did not stay for just a quick greeting, but he actually sat down on the edge of the stage to get close up and personal with the students, giving us inspirational messages about challenging ourselves and to fulfil our dreams.
He also stressed about how school life would stick to our hearts for the rest of our lives. He pleaded with us to choose our circle of friends wisely and to set goals we thought might be impossible.
Surprisingly, despite his image of the comical Fresh Prince and rapper, Smith was very serious and incredibly humble. He talked at length about his early years as a rapper.
He raised a lot of supportive cheers as he revealed how his boyhood lyrics were discovered by his grandmother. They were full of profanities but his grandmother, instead of bawling at him out left a simple message at the end of his notebook stating: "You are better than this! When you realise this yourself, you will know how to create lyrics that bring out the best in you."
He proudly announced that was the last time he ever used profanities in his rap lyrics even though other rappers accused him of being 'soft' and 'lacking edge'.
When he was riding the crest of the rapping wave, he worked with Quincy Jones who asked him if he had ever acted.
Jones had an idea based on someone he knew, who had come from a very poor family but moved to stay with relatives in Bel-Air to get away from gang violence in his neighbourhood. This was obviously the central story of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the rest, as Will Smith proclaimed, was "history".
At the end of his inspirational address the girls chanted "SING! SING! SING!" and then it came. The Prince sang his own theme from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with us! What an experience as we all (both students and staff) danced along with him catching his rhythm.
Mrs Morrison made him an honorary member of the St Martin's family.
After he left our assembly hall, it was time to return to our lessons, but with a sense that school life had shifted on its axis. We felt privileged and honoured to be addressed by this very special guest.
Everyone had something notable to say about this exceptional visit.
Nicole, Year 11, said: "I felt as if I already had a connection with Smith as he has impacted my life since I was very young. It was an indescribable feeling seeing him on our stage. I was amazed."
Pelumi confessed: "It was so surreal, I instantly burst into tears. He is a hero to me, a true legend."
Olamide started categorically: "It was the best day of my life. Tears were running down my face. I'll never forget the day I met the Fresh Prince."
History teacher Mr Marshall said: "I felt amazed and surprised and thought it would be someone famous but not THAT famous."
Our English teacher Ms Matin reminisced: "He was a part of my own teenhood. It was an amazing shared experience for both pupils and teachers."
Finally, Will Smith's own Facebook update says: "I want to send a shout out to my peeps in Brixton... head teacher Lesley Morison and everybody at St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls!"