Will Smith believes there is an important distinction between prejudice and racism.
Smith is receiving attention for his role as Dr. Bennet Omalu in the upcoming film “Concussion,” based on the true story of Omalu’s discovery of a chronic disease often caused by football-related brain trauma.
Sitting alongside other top actors In a roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith said he and his wife had recently looked up the definitions of prejudice and racism.
“Everybody is prejudiced,” he said. “Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another.”
But racism is more than that, Smith said.
“There’s a connotation in racism of superiority,” he said. “I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare.”
Smith said the times that he has faced racism as an actor, he has chosen not to take those jobs.
“For someone that actually thinks their race is superior to you, I don’t want to work for them, I don’t want to work at that company,” he said.
The interviewer asked if actors can do anything to combat racism.
While Samuel L. Jackson, an actor also participating in the interview, replied with an unequivocal ”no,” Smith said actors have the ability to change perspectives.
“Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward,” he said. “I think that what we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds.”