Will Smith: Jaden Smith Only Has One Pair of Shoes, I Have a “Poor Person’s Mentality”

Will Smith and Jaden Smith
Will Smith says Jaden only has one pair of shoes  John Ricard/Getty Images

Will Smith is a mega-movie star who gets paid seven to eight figures per movie, but in a lengthy interview with Esquire magazine, the Focus actor claimed he has a “poor person’s mentality” and so does his son Jaden.

After the reporter brought up the phrase “slavery to dollars,” Smith responded “you never lose the mentality,” and that there’s no such thing as financial security. 

“It’s such a strange thing,” he added, before revealing that his younger son is extremely frugal — something he’s very proud of.

“Jaden, my 16-year-old, he has one pair of shoes,” Smith admitted. “He has three pairs of pants and he has five shirts. He has refused to be a slave to money. I so respect that…It’s such an interesting thing to watch, because I came from a middle-class background…our lights and gas would be cut off from not paying the bill…And he's from the complete other end of the spectrum. And it's so interesting to me that from growing up in that space, he could see the need for things in a way that he's rejecting. He's like, ‘I’m not gonna let myself need things in that way,’” Smith continued, before adding: “But, I would like him to get another pair of shoes.” 

Jaden and Smith’s daughter, Willow, have also had their fair share of scrutiny given their, at times, outrageous quotes. But Smith said they “generally avoid” the hate.

“They're really well-adjusted around this business and understanding the nature of having to take a battering,” he explained. “It's a brutal world out there for young people, for everybody. Willow had one moment. The Young Turks are Willow's idol. They have a TV show online. They're like a really powerful group of young writers, hosts, and political commentators. Willow loves the Young Turks, and that was the only moment I saw her cry. Other than that, she's really well-adjusted with it. And Jaden understands that that's a part of this business. If he wants to do it, there's a certain amount of battery that you have to be willing to live through.”

One way Smith taught his children to be so understanding of hate? “We have a quote that I put up in the house from Pema Chödrön: ‘Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.’ We call it leaning into the sharp parts,” he shared. “Something hurts, lean in. You just lean into that point until it loses its power over you. There's a certain amount of suffering that you have to be willing to sustain if you want to have a good life. And the trick is to be able to sustain it with your heart open and still be loving. That is the real trick.”

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