In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the NBC television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran for six seasons until 1996. After the series ended, Smith transitioned from television to film, and has gone on to star in numerous blockbuster films. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, eleven consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally, and eight consecutive films in which he starred, open at the number one spot in the domestic box office tally.
Smith has been ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes.
As of 2014, 17 of the 21 films in which he has had leading roles have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million each, five taking in over $500 million each in global box office receipts. As of 2016, his films have grossed $7.5 billion at the global box office. For his performances as boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001) and stockbroker Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Smith received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.