On Will Smith’s Best Shape Of My Life

As someone who doesn’t like to lie, it’s often easy for me to recall when I’ve used direct lies in public.

Some call it peer pressure, and I tend to like that term. It rolls off the tongue with alliteration, and it even looks lovely in written form.

This lie is a simple, innocent one, but I often wonder why I didn’t just tell the truth. Talk about an anxious temperament!

It was my senior year of high school, back when I was so obsessed with cinema I could tell you who topped the box office each weekend and how much they grossed worldwide down to the dollar.

I was sitting in a choir session of On The Town, which met Wednesday nights at the JCC. I loved the choir because it kept me close to music and the JCC without committing to doing a musical. I was too interested in sports to be able to fit a musical into my high school schedule.

We were doing ice-breakers, and they asked a common question. Who is your favorite actor?

People said various famous names, such as Angelina Jolie and Edward Norton, but the leading name everyone said was Meryl Streep. 

When it was my turn, I knew who my favorite actor was, Will Smith, but no one had said him yet, and I wanted to sound educated, so I said, Marlon Brando.

I love Marlon Brando, but I’ve never been able to connect with him in the same way that I have for Will Smith.

Crazy enough, I’ve never connected with any actor the way I have with Will Smith.

I even referenced his character/ movie, Hitch, in my last blog post to describe myself in romantic relationships.

Why Smith particularly?

It may not be for the reasons you think.  

He’s an obvious movie star.

He’s had consistent success over a multi-decade-spanning career.

But he’s not my favorite because he’s a successful movie star.

Many actors and movie stars are successful, and I don’t necessarily have an opinion about them.

Smith does something different.

He’s funny and can play comedy roles but isn’t a comedian.

He’s made me cry in Pursuit of Happiness and 7 Pounds but is no thespian.  

He’s a movie star. Pure and simple.

Underneath it all, you know there’s also a bite and drive all successful people to have, but it may be hard to pinpoint from the outside.

He may try to hide it when playing a character, but you can see it in his eyes in every movie. He has tremendous drive and motivation to be loved by others. He’s a people pleaser.

To be clear, I’ve never met Smith. I did watch the paparazzi freak out over him in the lobby of a Hotel Martinez at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, but seeing is not meeting.

Okay, enough setup. 

The reason I’m writing this post is because Smith inspired me again.

But it wasn’t because he made an excellent movie or a fun pop-rap song.

His documentary was something different, and I’m hoping it sets off a trend. 

Smith’s ‘Best Shape of My Life’ on YouTube is one of the most incredible documentaries about Smith and being a celebrity.


Because the series sheds away his people pleasing persona and shows the real Smith.

I watched the first episode thinking it would be fun watching Will Smith travel to fabulous locations and lose some of his pandemic weight.

That was the original setup for the show. Will had a goal to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks while writing his book simultaneously.

Seems simple enough. Will was in great shape before and had access to the best trainers and chefs money can buy.

He also has a team of writers helping him with his book. 

What I got instead was a deeply emotional look at what it’s like to watch an incredibly successful person fail over and over again.

It takes you on a profoundly personal rollercoaster.

People Pleaser

Being a people pleaser has its benefits, but it can also be incredibly taxing.

You want others’ love so much that sometimes you forget about personal fulfillment. Combine that with a drive to win, and you end up with someone highly regarded and successful but in need of tremendous healing and therapy.  

I can relate to that.

It’s that nice guy thing. I want to be known as a nice guy, and often I am genuine in my niceness.

But sometimes, it is forced and fake, and you have to do and say things that you don’t mean to be loved.

You know you don’t have to. But you crave being loved more than being honest.

In those moments, you hide like a coward.

Saying Marlon Brando instead of Smith felt good at the moment. It kept my high school persona as a cinephile intact. But I remember it even now because it forced me to sacrifice the truth to be loved.

Smith, as a celebrity, must do this all the time.

Do you think he wants to smile and crack jokes every time a fan interrupts him and asks for a picture or an autograph?

Celebrity has an incredible price. Being a celebrity for so long has also made it difficult for Smith to be true to himself, go deep into why he is the way he is, and evolve as a person.

I am inspired by his blatant vulnerability.

What the documentary isn’t. 

The show isn’t directly about Will’s family life or relationship with the media or anything really like that. 

It’s much more about an imperfect man dealing with his demons.  

Of course, it’s highly stylized and has excellent interviews and production value.

You travel to beautiful places in Los Angeles, Dubai, and Miami. 

Behind all of it is a compelling documentary about what it takes to be successful and how to achieve peace and purpose. 

Will Smith: Best Shape Of My Life is streaming now on YouTube.  


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  • I totally relate to the reasons you cite about people pleasing. This is extremely well written and unexpectedly eye opening for a documentary review. Thank you for your candor.

    • Appreciate it Eric! Glad you enjoyed the article. The documentary really made me think about how I approach dealing with others/ people pleasing which was totally unexpected.