Watch Me Work: w/ Will Smith

Will was exactly what I thought he would be. Hilarious.

That particular season, my screenings and events involving him were easily the most enjoyable. He never failed to have the entire audience, press, staff, and even the security, laughing. He has a remarkable energy and genuinely lights up the room.

What We Do: We are Awards Publicists, conducting publicity and representing whole films – and most of the talent involved – during the 6-month Awards season.

  • We work with the voters (all Guild/Academy Members)
  • Run point on special events/screenings/premieres
  • Market by strategizing movie trailers/TV spots/billboards/etc.
  • Bring the press to the project by pitching ours films & talent for interviews/ appearances/worthy coverage with unique angles and great storytelling/etc.
  • We also frequently fight for magazine covers.

The Project: During Awards Season 2015-2016, I worked on “Concussion,” Will Smith’s movie focusing on the repercussions of injuries in the NFL. It was a risky message, considering the NFL ignored these repercussions for most of their legacy. They kind of still do. Will was impressive as a pathologist, putting on a South American accent and boldly leading a great cast in the sports drama.

The Synopsis:
Concussion, Distributed by Sony Pictures, Released December 2015
In Pittsburgh, Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a successful pathologist trying to reveal the truth about the damage professional football players obtain after enduring multiple concussions in their NFL careers. The condition is known as CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. It has lead to many players falling mentally ill, and eventually taking their own lives.

The Story: The first time I met Will, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) screening was completely full. Not a seat left in the house, despite many people’s efforts to try and sneak in after being turned away. The crowd was almost uncontrollable – I guess there are some MASSIVE Will Smith fans. I had to call security multiple times that night, which I always enjoy doing. One psycho fan almost pulled me over the table as he tried to get past us. He stole our confidential guest list as revenge, so I stole his phone the second it slipped out of his pocket during the brawl. Basically, it turned into a game of tug-a-war until security forcefully escorted him out. I will never forget that particular check-in experience. The things he was willing to do for Will…

As Will walked up with his “people,” he said, “Hey. How’s it going?”

“Going good. How are you?” I said. I believe I was smiling.

Then he jokes, “Shh, keep it down. People are trying to watch my movie in here.”

Then he smiled.

KCET Screening, Los Angeles

I brought my roommate to work with me that night. She sat up straight and flipped her blonde hair as Will walked by, as if that would make him fall in love with her or something. She won’t mind me saying this because she knows it’s true. That is the effect he has though. Everyone stops and stares, definitely thinking, “Yo, that’s Will Smith.”

Standing backstage with him, preparing the moderator for the Q&A, I saw how normal he was. He conversed with everyone around him, not at all giving the impression that he was Will Smith, movie star. After a few weeks, I realized that he is nowhere near tired of talking about The Fresh Prince of Bellaire. If anything, he enjoys thinking back on it. He will also rap the theme song anytime, anyplace, without missing a word. He’s just a really cool guy.

FYI: Will, nor the movie, received any nominations that season. Jada wasn’t happy about that. Remember? She even took to Twitter to express how she felt toward the Academy, as did many that Oscar season. I think it simply came down to the reactions toward the film. I know it wasn’t Will’s best project, but as usual, he was amazing. Dude can act.

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