In 2010, the YoungStar Award at the BET Awards was established to honor people under 21 making moves in entertainment and sports. In 2011, although Willow Smith became the second to win the prestigious honor (Keke Palmer being the first) to this day, Smith is still the youngest person to ever win the YoungStar Award when she was just 10 years old.
Daughter of mega-star parents Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow took home the prize that year after appearing in I am Legend and releasing the platinum single “Whip My Hair.” She could also be seen in Palmer’s Nickelodeon sitcom, “True Jackson.” Those are things that any adult star would be praised for, but the pre-teen Willow was just getting started. Now at 20-years old, there’s absolutely no stopping her.
Here’s a deeper look at 10 times Willow Smith has proved to us that her star power is blazing hot.
Jay-Z Was her boss
She signed to Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation and released the single “21st Century Girl,” an upbeat dance song that featured Cicely Tyson in the video as a nomadic woman who pulls Willow from the sand in a desert.
She Sets The Record Staright
In 2013, Willow sang a duo with DJ Fabrega called “Melodic Chaotic” and followed that with the release of a single called “Summer Fling.” Some questioned if it was appropriate for the 12-year old singer to use the word fling, but Willow straightened that out when she appeared on the debut of “The Queen Latifah Show” and said, “Just for clarity, the word fling means something that's short lived... And this song is dedicated to all the kids around the world whose summer is never long enough.”
Willow Gives Back
Willow Smith has become a philanthropist. She, along with her brother Jaden, serves as Youth Ambassador of Hasbro's Project Zambi. As ambassadors for the project, the two of them help raise awareness for children orphaned by the global AIDS epidemic by participating in fundraising and outreach campaigns.
She Puts In The Work
Smith has put out three albums since winning her BET YoungStar Award. First was the 2015 release, Ardipthecus, on which she wrote 11 of the tracks and produced 10 of them. On her birthday in 2017, she released her second album confusingly titled, The 1st. The album was critically lauded, Finally, in 2019 she dropped her third album entitled simply, Willow, another project she produced mostly herself.
Willow Can Hold Her Own
Along with her mother Jada Pinkett Smith and grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, she is now the co-host of “Red Table Talk,” a Facebook Watch show that gives the perspective of women from three different generations on various topics. The show has earned her two NAACP Image Awards and a Daytime Emmy Award nomination.
Willow Has a transparent soul
Willow formed a duo with Tyler Cole called The Anxiety. Their first release was a pop-punk song called “Transparent Soul.” This was a departure for Willow as this was her first foray into that genre. Most recently, she performed the new single alonside drummer Travis Barker on The Tonight Show to rave reviews.
Her Art Imitates Life
Willow and Tyler Cole locked themselves in a glass box for 24 hours last year as part of an art performance called “The Anxiety” for The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles. During the 24 hours they acted out eight stages of anxiety including paranoia, rage, sadness, numbness, strong interest, compassion and acceptance (each of which was acted out for three hours). It was streamed on Twitch.
Willow Finds Her Voice
Willow has done voiceovers for four different characters. Helenist in the anime TV series “Neo Yokio,” Beth in the “Adventure Time” TV show, Abby in the TV show “Merry Madagascar” and baby Gloria in the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa movie.
She's Learning new Things
Out of nowhere, Willow shared a video of herself playing the guitar on Instagram, something we hadn’t seen from her before. She captioned the video, “Who can guess what Miley Cyrus song this is? I added a couple passing tones and riffs to make it less obvious.” The song she played was Cyrus’ 2010 hit, “Who Owns My Heart.” Willow drew lots of praise including for Miley herself who commented, “Love love love” to which Willow responded, “you’re an icon.”
Willow Beauty Is Recognized
Willow has taken up modeling and has even walked the runway in lingerie for a Fenty x Savage show. She later talked about how that experience helped her gain confidence because it was her first time wearing lingerie and it was in front of the whole World.
Watch the 20th BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, at 8/9c.