Jaden Smith: how Will Smith responded to emancipation request - what is an emancipated minor?

The After Earth actor asked for an emancipation from his family when he was 15-years-old

Will Smith and his family often find themselves in the headlines, whether it’s over “infidelity” rumours between Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, or if it’s about the actor storming the stage of the Academy Awards after Chris Rock made a “G.I. Jane 2” joke.

Towards the end of last year, the Hollywood superstar revealed the moment that son Jaden Smith asked for an emancipation following the flop of their 2013 sci-fi film After Earth.

The actor said that Jaden had received “the worst public mauling of his life” when After Earth was released, and described his son’s request as “heart shattering”.

This is everything you need to know.

What does emancipated minor mean?

Emancipation refers to when a minor, which is someone still classified as a child by the law, is legally removed from the control of their parents or legal guardians.


An emancipated minor can then take on the responsibilities reserved for adults prior to reaching the age of majority which, in most places, is usually 18 years old.

This means that they can make decisions on things like their living arrangements, schooling and medical care, and are able to keep earnings from a job.

In most states in the US, there are some limits on what an emancipated minor can do.

For example, many states don’t allow emancipated minors to get married without parental consent, quit school entirely, buy or drink alcohol, or vote.

Why did Jaden Smith ask to be emancipated?


In an extract from his memoir, Will, obtained by People, Will Smith revealed that his son, Jaden Smith, requested an emancipation when he was 15 years old, in response to the fallout from when their 2013 film After Earth was panned by the critics.

Will wrote: “After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure.

“And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit. Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat.

“Jaden had faithfully done everything I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”

Jaden Smith performing onstage during The Freedom Experience featuring Justin Bieber (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jaden “ultimately decided against” the emancipation, but had he followed through with it, it would have meant that he would have had more control over things like his career, future projects and negotiating contracts.


In the past, the father and son duo have worked together in a handful of projects, including the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness.

How did Will Smith respond?

Will said that his heart was “shattered” when Jaden asked to be emancipated.

He wrote: “We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership.

“At 15 years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered.

“He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you’ve hurt your kids.”


Jaden briefly spoke about the decision not to go ahead with the emancipation process when he appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, alongside dad Will.

Jaden Smith and Will Smith attending the “After Earth” premiere New York City (Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Ellen asked: “I just heard that you are trying to become emancipated, is that right?”

Jaden replied: “See, here’s the thing you need to explain. I’m not going anywhere.

“The thing that people don’t get is, is that everything at his house is free.

“So I can get anything and everything I want at his house, so I’m going to be there for 20, 30 more years.


“[Will] says as soon as I have a movie that’s bigger than one of his movies, I can get my own house.”

Will added: “No emancipation for the Smith kids.”

Has Jada Pinkett Smith said anything about the emancipation?

During a 2018 Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden and Willow, Jada also talked about when he asked for an emancipation.

She said: “I remember this day specifically. It was probably one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.

“You got to a point here. You told me straight up - you were like, “Mom, I have to leave here to live my life”. I remember thinking to myself, as devastated as I was, I was like, “He’s right. The time is now. He’s 15. It’s time for him to leave the house”.”


Jaden Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith posing at a Hollywood after party (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

She added: “Being in this lifestyle, in this world is a bubble and he wanted out and I understood that.

“I knew what having my freedom outside the bubble [was like], what I gained from that.

“I knew that the sooner I let him go, the faster he was gonna come back.”