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Will Smith tackles racism vs. prejudice in The Hollywood Reporter’s special “Actor’s Roundtable” edition. The 47-year-old actor is featured along with  Benicio Del Toro, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cane, and Mark Ruffalo in much more diverse group of A-listers than THR’s “Actresses Roundtable” cover.

Among the topics discussed was whether or not prejudice has affected the respective actors’ careers. Del Toro, who is Puerto Rican, wondered if his name hindered his career, while Smith gave a theory on the popularity of discrimination.

“My wife and I were just having this conversation, and we were going to the dictionary for ‘prejudice’ versus ‘racism,’” explained Smith. “Everybody is prejudiced. Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another — it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white.

“But there is a connotation with racism of superiority: You feel that your race generally is superior,” said Smith. “And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare. Someone who thinks their race is superior. I don’t want to work for them. I don’t want to work at that company. And the times I have come in contact with it, you get away from those people.”

Smith, who has been getting lots of Oscar buzz for the NFL film Concussion, says actors can help change prejudice through art. “As actors we have the ultimate power. Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward. What we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds. So when I’m choosing a movie, I understand the global power of being able to send imagery around the world. “

Photo: WENN

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