With the success of “45,” it would appear the trend of entertainers vying for political office is gaining steam again. Celebs like Kanye West and The Rock have had their names bandied about when it comes to “The Highest Office in the Land.” But now, we can add another entertainer to that list: rapper and Hollywood megastar Will Smith.
On a recent episode of the podcast Pod Save America, “The Fresh Prince” talked with host and Crooked Media co-founder Jon Favreau, who himself was the former Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama. Favreau asked Smith about references he’d made in the past regarding presidential aspirations and what might entice the rapper/actor to consider a legitimate run in the future.
But Smith remained jokingly noncommittal about the whole matter and kept things open-ended for the time being. “I think for now I’ll let that office get cleaned up a little bit, and then I’ll consider that at some point down the line,” he said. “I absolutely have an opinion, I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful, I believe in understanding between people, and I believe in the possibility of harmony. I will certainly do my part, whether it remains artistic or, at some point, ventures into the political arena.”
Further into his convo with Favreau, Smith also touched on some of his own experiences with racism, and it was interestingly reminiscent of the exchange between former President Obama and Bruce Springsteen on their own show Renegades. “I’ve been called [n-word] to my face probably five or six times. And fortunately for my psyche, I’ve never been called [n-word] by a smart person,” Smith said. “I grew up with the impression that racists and racism were stupid, and they were easy to get around. I just had to be smarter now while they were very dangerous. I had never looked into the eyes of a racist and saw anything that I perceived as intellect.”
This is not the first time he’s hinted at a possible run for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though. In a 2015 sit-down with CBS News reporter Tracy Smith, the West Philly multipotentiality didn’t mention anyone specific but told her, “If people keep saying all the crazy kinds of stuff they’ve been saying on the news lately about walls and Muslims, they’re going to force me into the political arena.” And when he was asked to delve a little further as to where in the arena he would focus, Smith told her, “I mean, I gotta be the President. Come on!… What else would I run for?”
Even as recently as 2018, Smith continued to tease the idea. During a random moment with comedic genius Dave Chappelle sitting next to him, a reporter asked Smith if he would run for president, so he wanted to confirm with the reporter if he would get her approval.
“You’d vote for me if I ran?” Smith asked. And she replied, “I would.”
“Aight,” Smith then answered, “I’mma a consider it. I’mma take that under advisement.”
But then Chappelle offered to be on the ticket, too, making sure nothing would go much too awry: “And I’ll be the vice president, that way nothing bad will happen to Will.”
So while the window for “Smith-Chappelle 2020” may have escaped us, maybe he’s getting us ready for “Smith-Chappelle 2024.” Stay tuned.