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Will Smith Opened Up About Being Called The N-Word "More Than 10" Times By Police

"We have to understand the reality of where we came from."

This week, Will Smith spoke with attorney and political commentator Angela Rye about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The actor shared his own experiences with racism and opened up about how he thinks the younger generation can use their "rage" to reshape the future.

"I grew up in Philadelphia under Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor and he had an iron hand," Will recalled.

"I've been called 'nigger' by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions," he said.

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"I got stopped frequently," he added. "So I understand what it's like to be in those circumstances with the police. To feel like you've been occupied. It's an occupying force."

Will said he learned of the disparities between the way Black and white people view policing after attending a Catholic school in the suburbs. "White kids were happy when the cops showed up and my heart always started pounding."

Will Smith pounds his chest to emphasize his reaction to seeing police officers as a kid
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"There's a part of this that people who don't grow up in that, you just can't comprehend. You just can't comprehend what it feels like to feel like you live in an occupied territory," he stated.

The proud father also recounted watching the video of George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police officers. "I've got two Black sons driving around. So when I saw this cop with his hands in his pockets, I'm like, 'What is going on inside of a person's mind to just be able to do that to another person?'" he said.

Will Smith makes a hand gesture to show his confusion about police brutality

"Rage is justified under oppression. It also can be really dangerous," Will warned.

"You've gotta be careful not to be consumed by your own rage," he advised.

Will talks to Angela Rye via webcam
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"And that's something that I worked really hard on."

The 51-year-old told Angela what he loved about the peaceful protests happening around the globe is that they "put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor."

Protestors take a knee and raise their fists at a Black Lives Matter march
Loic Venance / Getty Images

"The more still you are in your peaceful protest, the more clear the mirror is to the oppressor. And for the world to see and for them to see themselves."

"I was really encouraged by how powerfully this generation was able to hold that mirror," he added.

A Black person raises their fist in front of a Black Lives Matter protest sign
Loic Venance / Getty Images

In regards to his upcoming film Emancipation, a thriller about a runaway slave, Will explained why he felt now is the right time for him to tackle the subject matter for the first in his movie career.

He said, "The reason I chose Emancipation now is, more than ever, we have to understand the reality of where we came from. The problem is there's an absence of knowledge about the history. It's really difficult to elevate without the knowledge and wisdom being presented in a way that the youth among us, in their most powerful form, are also educated."

He also explained why he avoided making such films in the past:

"For my career, my whole approach to building an image, and to building something that young Black kids and kids around the world could aspire to...I was strictly only creating images that were of the highest intelligence [and] the highest power. I needed to be as high and fly as high as I could possibly fly, so young Black kids would see that kind of flying — and really all kids — could see that type of flying as not something that only white movie stars could do."

Watch his full interview with Angela Rye ahead, where he addressed the contention over Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter, the importance of voting out "loveless, godless leadership," and much more.

View this video on YouTube

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