Despite Separation, Jada Pinkett Smith Affirms She and Will Are ‘Made for This Journey Together’: Stirring Curiosity and Speculation

The ‘Red Table Talk’ host discusses her upcoming memoir ‘Worthy,’ why she and Will don’t have a prenup and the first time she shaved her head.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at the Oscars

Getty Images

In Worthy (on sale Oct. 17, $27, amazon.com), Jada Pinkett Smith, the star of three Matrix films and host of Red Table Talk, 52, shares her passage from a rebellious kid on the streets of Baltimore to building a successful career, and becoming the wife of Will Smith and mother to JadenWillow and Trey (Will Smith’s son from his first marriage). In this painfully honest memoir, Pinkett Smith takes readers from the depths of her suicidal depression to the heights of self-acceptance in her journey to self-worth and spiritual healing.

Parade sat down with Pinkett Smith, who’s since spoken publicly about the fact that she and Smith have been separated since 2016 (a disclosure she also makes in her book), to discuss why she wanted to write a memoir and what she hopes to say in it.

Worthy Book Cover

Worthy

Dey Street Books

Walter Scott: Your book opens with you contemplating suicide and trying to come up with a way to do it so that it looks like an accident for your children’s sake. That’s such a bold start.

Well, I think for me it’s just to let everybody know from the gate, a) you don’t know my story; b) we’re going to do a deep dive, this is not going to be fluffy; and c) that it’s going to be different than the Red Table. Because I’m sure a lot of people are like, “Well, what are we going to learn in your memoir that we don’t know?” It’s a lot because there’s so much context that one needs to have in order to go into stories a certain way. Without that context it’s just like, What?!

There are a lot of words in the English language. Why “worthy” for the title? 

Worthy because this is a journey to my self-worth, and I think that we are all struggling with wanting to feel worthy and finding what real worth means for ourselves individually. I use the word unlovable a lot, too. I was like, Oh, maybe I should speak more from a positive than a negative. I wanted to name the book Unlovable but that wasn’t happening. I used the word worthy a lot, so I was like, Ah, that’s a more positive approach.

Talk about your grandmother’s influence as being the impetus for your journey of self-discovery and spiritual seeking. 

Man, thank goodness. Because my grandmother, really at such a young age, she would always say, “Jada, I want you to be well-rounded.” So, my formative years were about exploration, about finding answers in the world and knowing that there were answers there. And so, I’m very lucky that I had my grandmother to really show me that there are answers there, you just have to search for them, and they’re going to be in the most unexpected corners but constantly keep your mind open towards learning new things and experiencing new things. I really do believe that if I didn’t have that, I don’t know where I would be today.

At some point, I wanted to say to you, “Stop overthinking everything. Just take a moment, relax, breathe and the answers will come.” Do you think that there is some truth to the idea that maybe you needed to take a deep breath at some point? 

Oh, listen, I think that taking deep breaths and slowing down is so absolutely important. When you come from chaos and that is so familiar to you, it takes so long to unlearn that energetic field of chaos like, “Go, go, go, keep, keep,” you know? And it’s like, “No, take a moment to just breathe.” I’ve had to learn that over the years that, no, chaos is actually not normal and you need to just relax and take a moment. I’m still learning that.

In all this searching, did you recognize your talent? 

Yes, absolutely, I always recognized that I had talent, but that talent could never substitute the need for soul nourishment, and that was an imperative thing for me to find.

When you and Will were going to get married, you decided not to do a prenup and that made a special connection between you. Today, you are still connected. You may not be living together, but was that the moment that formed the strong connection with Will that will last through your lives? 

Listen, weddings are beautiful, but they can be very romanticized. I feel that was a very real moment for the two of us to look each other in the eyes, recognize that there would be tough times in this journey and to say to each other, “No matter what, we’re going to figure it out and that’s why we don’t need a prenup, because I’m making a promise that divorce won’t be necessary, that we will figure this out.” And we made that promise to each other without all of the bridal wedding beauty; it was just sitting on a log in his mother’s backyard, and going, “Hey.” Having to really look at the possibility of us not being together.

You also talk about how the “holy slap” at the Oscars brought you closer. Why? 

Look, everybody wants to ride in the limo, right? Everybody wants to be down when everything’s lovely. What happens when things aren’t so lovely? What happens when people who love you need you, and when you need people that you love? And so that was a moment that I feel like we recognized once again, “Oh, snap, we are just made for this journey together.” And I was like, “No matter what, I am here with you. I don’t care what is going on.” And I think that is the moment for both of us when we looked at each other and said, “Wow, we’re really what we got.”

It’s nice to have somebody in your life like that. 

Absolutely. That’s what we all want. We all have our romanticized ideas of how it all should be, and it might not show up in that way. But at the end of the day, do you have someone at your side that you’re willing to go through tough times with and they’re willing to go through tough times with you? I’m very lucky that I can say, “Yes, I have someone that’s willing to do that.”

You also talk about how Willow’s shaving her head helped you decide that that was okay for you as well, and that you want to represent for others who have alopecia.

Absolutely. My alopecia, it does its thing, like right now I’m good. We don’t know what next week is going to look like. There are some people that their hair doesn’t grow back, and it’s just gone forever, right? But yeah, I shaved my head because it was a rough patch there. There are so many people who feel so much shame around alopecia and I’m like, “Man, with my hair or without my hair, I’m going to love what is.” And so that was the whole purpose of that, and I have to say that that has been a beautiful journey for me, and I feel honored to be a part of that clan.

Were you able to write this book now because you’re in a good place? 

Yeah, I decided, it was December 2021 where I was like, Okay, I’m going on this journey. Definitely after the Oscars I was like, Whoa, maybe I shouldn’t; maybe this is telling me I shouldn’t. And I was like, No, this is part of the process. But I had gotten to a place in my life where I was ready to share my journey from feeling unworthy to worthy.

What do you want people to take away from Worthy? Do you think this lets people know the real you? 

I don’t know if it’s even possible for people to know the real you. Shoot, I’m still trying to know the real me. I’m still on that journey. I think for me, I feel like women sharing the depths of their journey is still very taboo. I feel like women are still often really judged for the truth of what we endure and what we go through to become the women we want to be. It’s not a pretty path, and I think a lot of times women are expected to have very pretty paths, very pretty, conventional, conformed paths.

Through everything I’ve been through, I’ve been through the gauntlet. I’ve been through the gauntlet of the harshest criticism, and I am here standing 10-toes-down in my self-worth, right? And so, I felt that if anybody can share a lot of the truth of her journey, it would be me, so that other women who might not have that courage yet can feel seen and shed whatever shame or whatever judgment that they might have on their journey. And to know that part of feeling holistic is embracing it all, the light along with the shadow, and that we are allowed to dance with our shadows.

What qualities do you think women need to possess to be in the world successfully today? 

To be in the world successfully, know thyself. Know thyself and don’t allow others to dictate who you should be. No institution, no person, no nothing. Know you, embrace you, completely and wholly.

Red Table Talk was such a groundbreaking show. It covered subjects that were considered taboo or too personal. Why did you want to be the woman to lead the way, to say, “It’s okay to talk about these things?” 

I just felt like I could because I’m not afraid of the criticism because I’ve been through it. So, I just wanted to say, “Hey, it’s okay.” I’m not going to say it’s easy but do know that it’s okay and that your journey is worthy. And when we must hide in the shadows with it, then that’s saying that our journey’s not worthy.

Do you plan to continue acting? Or are you looking to produce projects that tell women’s stories, that support women? 

That’s the trajectory I’ve been on the last couple of years, and that’s the trajectory I’m going to stay on through projects that I’m producing. I feel like any roles that come my way, that’s the first thing I look at. How does this sit in the value scope of how I want to assist in the overall narrative of what a woman is? I’m open to it all, but I will say that definitely it takes a lot.

When you talk about things that you’ve produced, it seems the thing that you’re most proud of that you’ve produced are your children and your bonus son. 

Honestly, my kids have given me so much life, literally. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I would have had the wherewithal to get through some of the darkest moments of my life. And they’ve just been great teachers, and they are my joy.

And as I talked about in the book, one of the reasons that Will and I decided to get married is I was pregnant with Jaden, and we wanted to create the family that we never had, and we did that. He and I talk about it all the time, how lucky we are that we just got three of some of the greatest kids. We love our kids; we don’t always like them. You know what I mean? But I just love my family. It’s the greatest gift of my life.

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