The 47-year-old actor, rapper and Oscar winner is best known for big-budget films such as Independence Day, Men in Black and Bad Boys.
“When I first heard that MTV wanted to give me the Generation Award, I thought that was like code for the ‘Old Ass Dude Award’—’Congratulations, your best work is behind you, have fun,'” Smith joked onstage.
“This is absolutely beautiful,” he said. “I was in Brooklyn the other day shooting, and these women came running out, they’re like 35-40 years old, they’re screaming, ‘Oh my God, Will, Will!’ Then there is this one kid who is 8 years old and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know who you are.’ So I knelt down and said, ‘I’m the Karate Kid’s dad.'”
Smith received a tribute performance from The Lonely Island, who sang a mash-up of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, “Men In Black” and “Gettin’ Jiggy With It,” while Queen Latifah and Halle Berry praised the actor.
“The reason I admire this amazing, wonderful, talented man most, well, Will is champion for diversity in Hollywood, blazing a path for actors by showing that someone of any color can play any role, and can open any movie, and can win every award, and be the biggest freakin’ movie star in the whole world,” Berry said. “I love you Will Smith.”
“There isn’t a more thoughtful or talented man in this town, there is no one that’s been more generous to me or our community,” Latifah said. “He was the first rapper to break into movies and become and international superstar. The king of huge blockbuster movies, and we all got to thank him for opening up that door. Thank you.”
Will Smith said he is humbled by the award.
“I released my first record when I was 17, and so I’m 47 years old, this June marks 30 years in this business for me,” he said. “I made parents just don’t understand. I’m with my kids sometimes and I’m like, ‘I don’t get it.’ I really just want to say, I’m humbled, and I want all of you to know I am dedicated to being a light in this world.”
“I am dedicating every day, when I wake up, I want to help people,” he added. “I want to be a light, I want to display love, I want to play roles that have dignity, and just want to help. In this world there is a lot of suffering, a lot of people are suffering in this world and when you see my material and when I present myself in public and what I’m trying to do with my family and my friends, I just want all of you to know that I am dedicated to till I die to light and love.”
Smith is a 17-time MTV Movie Awards nominee and has taken home the Golden Popcorn five different times. During the height of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s success, he served as host of the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.
“Will Smith and MTV have grown up together and share a very cool history,” executive producer Casey Patterson said in a statement this past March. “MTV was a part of every phase of Will’s career and he has been a huge part of what defined the MTV culture from the beginning. From TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to his music and amazing movies, Will is the voice of a generation and not afraid to use it.”
You can catch Will next in Suicide Squad, which hits theaters Aug. 5. (Courtesy E online)