Willow Smith isn’t done transforming

Back in 2010, when many Gen Zers were making their way through middle school, a new song hit the airwaves and rocked some worlds. It was “Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith, the then 10-year-old daughter of mega stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Since then, Smith’s icon status has only grown. Being the daughter of legends of music and the screen is no doubt daunting, but Smith has always handled it with grace. Suffice to say, you rarely catch Willow Smith caught up in mess, and when controversies or missteps do arise, she quickly addresses them.

Smith is the epitome of cool, whether she’s on her mother’s former Facebook Live show Red Table Talk or performing a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. Since “Whip My Hair” was released, Smith’s music has only gotten better. In 2015, she released her debut album Ardipithecus, featuring the hit single “Wait a Minute!”.

She’s released another six albums since that first one, as well as a handful of EPs. With her most recent release empathogen, Smith’s creativity is on full display. She described the project as her “first grown-up album” in an interview with Billboard

“There is a moment in your life where you realize what really matters to you, and you realize the path that — no matter what changes — the path that you’re always gonna be on. And for me, that path is sharpening my musicianship, sharpening my compassion, and those two go hand in hand,” Smith said. “I feel like this album is the first album where I’m on the same page with myself.”

In 2019, Smith came out as bisexual, and soon after expressed an interest in polyamory. In an episode of Red Table Talk, she opened up about what she wants from a relationship. “I love men and women equally and so I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people,” Smith said. “I focus a lot on the emotional connection.”

Last month, Smith also added “author” to her ever-growing resume. Her debut novel Black Shield Maiden, which she co-wrote with her friend Jess Hendel, follows an ancient African warrior who is forced to fight alongside Vikings. On Instagram, Smith said the book is her “love letter to all the powerful and beautiful stories that have been lost to time.” Black Shield Maiden released on May 7 after a two-year delay, as Smith listened to criticisms of her original manuscript and ensured it accurately reflected the diverse communities the book portrays.

(If a novel isn’t really your thing right now, her music is available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify. I highly recommend starting with her debut album then working your way up to today.)

From literature to music, Smith somehow finds time to do it all. This year, she performed at Coachella alongside Jon Batiste, who’s featured on empathogen. With a new album out and a nearly universally lauded Tiny Desk performance, Smith continues to cement herself as a force to be reckoned with. ♦

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