West Philadelphia-bred actor Will Smith was recently honored by his hometown with a larger than life mural and now he’s using the piece of art to pay it forward. Smith plans on selling merchandise that features the mural imagery to raise money for a local school, NBC reported.
The mural—which is part of an art initiative launched by the city—lives at 4545 W. Girard Avenue, the news outlet writes. The artwork—which was created by London-based street artist Richard Wilson—is a 65-foot image of Smith sitting on a chair and donning a suit and Air Jordan’s. Wilson says he was inspired by the vibrancy of artist Kehinde Wiley’s work.
It’s located near the Global Leadership Academy Charter School; a kindergarten through eighth-grade school that aims to develop tomorrow’s leaders. Smith created a line of merchandise inspired by the mural and is giving 100 percent of the proceeds to the charter school. The collection will feature everything from hoodies to cell phone covers.
“The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadelphia wrecked me,” said Smith in a video posted on his YouTube channel. Global Leadership Academy CEO Dr. Naomi Booker says the mural serves as a source of inspiration for her students. “Knowing that this man is from West Philly opens their eyes, it opens their lens. This man who is an icon is looking at GLA,” she said. “My kids every day will see this image and know that you can be whoever you want to be. It’s so powerful.”
Muralists across the nation are using their artistry to pay homage to influential and impactful African Americans. Jorael Elliot, a New Mexico artist, painted a mural featuring the faces of Colin Kaepernick, Rosa Parks and others in Macon, Georgia; illustrating the power of protest.
Watch the video about the story behind Will Smith’s mural below.