And how fitting that it’s Smith to make such history, and just days before his 18th birthday (July 8, 2016) at that.
Smith talked gender fluidity, fashion, his favorite emoji, having famous parents, his role in The Get Down, and much more with the magazine. His closest friends and colleagues (Nicolas Ghesquière, Tavi Gevinson, and Moises Arias) also add their voices to Smith’s feature.
See his 10 best eye-opening statements and quotes below:
On where he gets his confidence and his advice to anyone struggling with low self-esteem or bullying, Smith (who’s fully embraced gender fluid fashion and has been spotting wearing skirts on occasion) explained:
“You just have to believe in yourself, you know. The world is going to keep bashing me for whatever I do, and I’m going to keep not caring. I’m going to keep doing the same things—I’m going to keep doing more things. I’m going to take most of the blows for my fellow MSFTS. So, you know, in five years when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won’t get beat up and kids won’t get mad at him. It just doesn’t matter. I’m taking the brunt of it so that later on, my kids and the next generations of kids will all think that certain things are normal that weren’t expected before my time.”
On his favorite emoji:
“The square emoji,” he said finally, punctuating his answer with a finger-gun gesture.
On his famous parents:
“The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my parents is to be myself, at all costs, no matter what anybody thinks.”
On his future projects:
“There are a lot of things coming that I’m very excited for that I’m not going to tell you about any of them :).”
On appearing in Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring/summer ’16 women’s campaign earlier this year, Smith uses the word “flame” to describe the vibes on set of the shoot:
“It was lit because we all knew that we were going to impact the culture and change the game and make a difference.”
Ghesquière comments on Smith’s impact on the fashion industry, noting how he and his gender fluid style “represents a generation that has assimilated the codes of true freedom”:
“…one that is free of manifestos and questions about gender. Wearing a skirt comes as naturally to him as it would to a woman who, long ago, granted herself permission to wear a man’s trench or a tuxedo. Jaden Smith conveys something very interesting about the integration of a global wardrobe. He’s found an instinctive balance that makes his extraordinary attitude a new norm. That really inspired me in the creative process for this collection.”
On Smith’s love for the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Italy.
“I’ve only been there once, but it’s my favorite place to be, and it’s the easiest place to forget about all of the misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misfortunes of planet Earth.”
On the greatest challenge he faced for his new role in The Get Down:
“Wearing an afro over my dreads is probably the number one hardest thing we do—keeping it looking normal.”
One of Smith’s oldest friends, Moises Arias (A.K.A. @490tx), describes Smith in his own words:
“When I was 16, Jaden was 12 years old. At that point in time I was very lost in terms of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and all that, and Jaden just makes you aware of all these unique attributes everybody has. So we’ll sit down in a circle with all of our friends and just speak about it, and that’s something that Jaden still very much likes to do—to talk to people about how they’re feeling and just give them any sort of response that feels right in that moment. Jaden’s gone through many experiences, but at the same time, not, so he likes to communicate with people that are in different situations and positions.”
Smith’s contemporary Tavi Gevinson recalls meeting Smith during an outing with his sister Willow and The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg, calling him “one of the warmest and most openhearted people I’ve ever encountered, while also sharply discerning.”
“We started by holding hands and saying ‘blastoff.’ Then [the Smith siblings] had all these questions for Amandla about race theory, so we talked about that. Jaden questions everything. Then he monologued about the innate unity of all beings. Then we just goofed off around the water at the Hudson River.”
NYLON’s August 2016 issue goes on sale July 19, 2016.