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Jaden Smith: ‘I Always Knew No One Was Going to Understand Me’

Jaden Smith knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider. “I’ve always looked at life differently,” says the 18-year-old actor, rapper, and fashion trendsetter. “I always knew no one was going to understand me — since before I could talk — and that’s why I was so quiet. I was very calm, very to myself. I could tell I felt about life differently than other kids; I could tell by the way they treated me.”

Mark Williams & Sara Hirakawa for Variety

That outlook is one of the things that attracted Smith to his role as Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama series “The Get Down,” now available on Netflix. It also helped that Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is his favorite movie of all time. “I knew I was going to say yes,” says Smith, about the moment the filmmaker pitched him the show.

Smith’s feeling of being an outsider is also behind his fashion sense. He has made headlines for his ensembles, like the white Batman suit he wore to prom and to the Kim Kardashian-Kanye West wedding, and the dresses and skirts he’s been photographed in at various events.

“I’ve always been super-duper fly and super-duper different,” he says of his style, adding he’s worn dresses for the last 10 years at least, but it was only fairly recently that it got attention. “People just start caring when they have a reason to start caring,” he says, and cites his style icons: Andy Warhol, the Joker, Poseidon, and Spike from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Now Smith has a clothing line on his MSFTSrep site. When asked to elaborate on the collective, Smith says, “It’s pronounced ‘misfits.’ I took the ‘I’ out of ‘misfits’ because we’re a team and there is no ‘I’ in team. It’s a place for the lost kids and everyone to go, and something for them to have.”

Mark Williams & Sara Hirakawa for Variety

He says it’s created for “the girl that wants to be a tomboy or the boy that wants to wear a skirt, and people try to condemn. We’re here for you. Tell us your stories. If someone at your school’s trying to pick on you, it doesn’t matter because Jaden Smith’s got your back.”

Another organization Smith is passionate about is JUST Water, a company that produces water in a bottle made largely out of renewable resources. “It’s a bottle of water that has 74% less CO2 emissions than any of its competitors,” he notes.

Asked who he credits for his strong sense of self, he doesn’t hesitate. “My parents, of course,” he says of actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. “My parents told me that the world was harsh and that we had to be strong within ourselves.”

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