In 2008, Stephen Colbert met Will Smith for the first time while he was still the host of "The Colbert Report," and Smith told the late-night host he'd like to be the first black president. This was amid President Obama's first campaign, to provide a little context.
On Tuesday night, Smith joined Colbert on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and the two reminisced about this.
In retrospect, Smith said politics definitely interested him, and he has a lot of strong views on various issues, but he thinks his true talents lie elsewhere. Not to mention, he noted, being president ain't easy.
I was thinking about it, you know, but I watched Obama for the last 8 years [and] that's a hard job... I definitely have had the itching. I have lots of views and ideas and sometimes I hear people say things on television and I just want to run against them -- just straight at 'em and knock 'em over. But, I think it's not where my greatest gifts are.
Colbert then suggested Smith would be really good at playing the role of Obama on the silver screen. "You guys both have swagger," Colbert said.
Smith told Colbert he and President Obama have actually talked about it in this past, and the president gave him his blessing. He said,
We've talked about it a couple times. He said the one thing that's for sure is I have the ears to play him.
Colbert and Smith also touched on more serious topics, and the late-night host asked the actor whether or not he thinks race relations have gotten better over the course of Obama's presidency. When President Obama came into office, there were hopes the US was moving toward overcoming many of its issues regarding race and the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow.
Today, however, racial tensions are very high, Black Lives Matter is at the forefront of American politics and there have been a number of highly publicized police killings involving minorities this summer alone.
In response to Colbert's question, Smith stated,
I always look at these things in terms of a marriage, you know? I've done my 10,000 hours of marriage counseling. So Jada and I have worked really hard to develop a successful relationship. So I always look at things in terms of relationships, so when I think about race relations in this country now, there's a thing that happens before things are cleaned up. There's a darkness before the dawn that is always difficult. When I hear people say 'It's worse than it's ever been,' I really disagree completely. It's clearly not worse than it was in the '60s. And it's certainly not as bad as it was in the 1860s. We are talking about race in this country more clearly and openly than we have almost ever in the history of this country. It's on the table. Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed... The problems are on the table... When the truth comes out, when it gets on the table and you have to confront what's real, it sucks.
Hearing this from a world-renowned black actor who starred in a groundbreaking television show that touched on many racial themes is definitely encouraging.
And, the man definitely has a point: Racism is nothing new, we're all just getting exposed to it in new ways. Smartphones, and other devices that can record videos, exposed us to racial violence that's always been occurring, but we're all just more aware of it now.
Perhaps Will Smith would make a better real-life president than he thinks.
Will Smith for president! Fresh Prince of the White House.