Jada Pinkett Smith
Pinkett Smith at the 2014 PaleyFest
Jada Koren Pinkett
September 18, 1971 (age 49)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
- television personality
- Westbrook Inc
- 100% Woman Productions
AgentCreative Arts AgencySpouse(s)
Jada Koren Pinkett Smith () (née Pinkett; born September 18, 1971) is an American actress, screenwriter, producer, talk show host, businesswoman, and occasional singer-songwriter.
She began her acting career in 1990, with a guest appearance on the short-lived sitcom True Colors, and subsequently starred in the television series A Different World (1991–1993). She made her feature film debut in Menace II Society (1993). Her breakthrough came opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996), and she has since starred in more than 20 feature films, including Set It Off (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Ali (2001), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), Collateral (2004), the Madagascar films (2005–2012), Magic Mike XXL (2015), Bad Moms (2016), Girls Trip (2017), and Angel Has Fallen (2019). On television, she has starred in Hawthorne (2009–2011) and Gotham (2014–2016).
Pinkett Smith launched her music career in 2002, when she helped create the heavy metal band Wicked Wisdom, for which she was a singer and songwriter. Along with her husband Will Smith, she has a production company, and has had producing credits in films, documentaries, and television series. She also wrote a children’s book, Girls Hold Up This World, which was published in 2004.
Jada has been married to Will Smith since 1997, with whom she has two children: son Jaden and daughter Willow. Through their marriage, she is also stepmother to Smith’s son from his first marriage, Trey Smith.
Family and early life
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Jada Pinkett Smith was named after her mother’s favorite soap opera actress, Jada Rowland. Pinkett Smith is of Jamaican and Bajan descent on her mother’s side and African-American descent on her father’s side. Her parents are Adrienne Banfield-Jones, the head nurse of an inner-city clinic in Baltimore, and Robsol Pinkett Jr., who ran a construction company. Banfield-Jones, who during the 2010s became Adrienne Banfield-Norris, became pregnant in high school; the couple married but divorced after several months. Banfield-Jones raised Pinkett with the help of her own mother, Marion Martin Banfield, a Jamaican-born social worker. Banfield noticed her granddaughter’s passion for the performing arts and enrolled her in piano, tap dance, and ballet lessons.
Pinkett Smith has remained close to her mother and said, “A mother and daughter’s relationship is usually the most honest, and we are so close.” She also added: “[My mother] understood what I wanted and never stood in my way.” She participated as the maid of honor in Banfield-Norris’ 1998 wedding to Paul Jones, a telecommunications executive. Pinkett Smith has shown great admiration for her grandmother, saying, “My grandmother was a doer who wanted to create a better community and add beauty to the world.”
Pinkett Smith attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where she met and became close friends with her classmate, rapper Tupac Shakur. When she met Shakur, she was a drug dealer. She majored in dance and theatre and graduated in 1989. After graduation, she spent a year at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Pinkett began her acting career in 1990, when she starred in an episode of True Colors. She received guest roles in television shows such as Doogie Howser, M.D. (1991) and 21 Jump Street (1991), and earned a role on comedian Bill Cosby’s NBC television sitcom A Different World in 1991, as college freshman Lena James.
In 1994, Pinkett Smith acted with Keenen Ivory Wayans in the action and comedy film A Low Down Dirty Shame. She described her character, Peaches, as “raw” with “major attitude”, and her acting garnered positive reviews. The New York Times noted, “Ms. Pinkett, whose performance is as sassy and sizzling as a Salt-N-Pepa recording, walks away with the movie.” In 1994, she also starred as a title character in Doug McHenry’s romantic drama Jason’s Lyric (1994), opposite Allen Payne, and in 1995, played a convict on work release in the horror film Demon Knight (1995). Roger Ebert, in his review for the former film, praised the chemistry between Payne and Pinkett Smith, writing: “[He] has powerful chemistry with the enigmatic, teasing, tender character played by Pinkett; they really seem to like one another, which is not a feeling you always pick up in screen romances”.
Rise to prominence (1996–2003)
Pinkett Smith starred with actor and comedian Eddie Murphy in the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor, portraying the love interest of a kind-hearted university professor who is morbidly obese. The film was a commercial success, earning $25 million in its first weekend in North America; it eventually made $274 million worldwide. She also had a role in Set It Off (1996), a crime drama about four women who rob banks to escape from poverty, opposite Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise. Her acting in the film was noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, where they said she was “the one to watch”. Budgeted at $9 million, Set It Off made $41 million globally.
In 1997, Pinkett Smith had a cameo role in Scream 2 as a college student who is brutally murdered in front of hundreds of cinemagoers. The film made more than $100 million at the North American box office. In 1998, she played a news reporter in the thriller Return to Paradise, with Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn, and took on the title role of an extroverted woman, alongside Tommy Davidson, in the comedy Woo. While giving positive reviews to her performance in Woo, Derek Armstrong of AllMovie stated that the script was “formulaic” and “not much of a vehicle for its impish starlet”. She next starred in Spike Lee‘s film Bamboozled (2000), as a personal assistant to the main character portrayed by Damon Wayans. Although the film met with mediocre reviews, it won the Freedom of Expression Award by the National Board of Review.
In 2001, Pinkett Smith portrayed a loud-mouthed wife in the moderately successful comedy Kingdom Come, with LL Cool J, Vivica A. Fox, Anthony Anderson, Toni Braxton, and Whoopi Goldberg. In the biographical sports drama Ali (also 2001), she played Sonji Roi, the first wife of boxer Muhammad Ali, opposite Will Smith. While she loved the final product, she initially did not think she was the right person for the role: “I felt like because we were a couple off screen, for people to see us together on the screen in a movie like this, would take people out of the movie, that people would see Will and Jada there — they wouldn’t see Ali and Sonji”.
Perhaps her best-known role to date is the part of human rebel Niobe in the films The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), sequels to 1999’s The Matrix, and the related video game Enter The Matrix (2003). The character was written specifically with Pinkett Smith in mind. Directly after she filmed her scenes for Ali, Pinkett Smith flew to Australia to work on the Matrix sequels. The sequels earned over $91 million and $48 million during their North American opening weekends, respectively.
Acting, producing, and directing (2004–2013)
In the neo-noir thriller Collateral (2004), alongside Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise, Pinkett Smith obtained the role of a U.S. Justice Department prosecutor and the target of a contract killer. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing US$217.8 million worldwide. She voiced Gloria, a strong, confident, but sweet hippopotamus, in the computer animated film Madagascar (2005). Tom McGrath, one of the film’s directors, stated they found all these traits in her voice when they listened to her. Despite a mixed response from critics, the film was a commercial success, earning US$532 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits of 2005. In 2007, she played the wife of an affluent dentist in the drama Reign Over Me, with Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland. Entertainment Weekly described the film as a “strange, black-and-blue therapeutic drama equally mottled with likable good intentions and agitating clumsiness”, and found Pinkett Smith to be “graceful” in it.
In 2008, Pinkett Smith took on the role of a lesbian author in the all-female comedy The Women, opposite Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, and Eva Mendes. Though a commercial success, The Women was panned by critics, with Pinkett Smith earning a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her performance. Her directorial debut was the drama The Human Contract (also 2008); she also wrote, and starred as the sister of a successful but unhappy businessman, with Paz Vega and Idris Elba. It debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2008. The success of Madagascar led Pinkett Smith to return to the role of Gloria in the 2008 sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which earned US$603 million at the international box office.
Pinkett Smith was an executive producer and starred as a Chief Nursing Officer in the TNT medical drama Hawthorne, which premiered on June 16, 2009. USA Today remarked: “Pinkett Smith’s Hawthorne is tired in every sense of the word, and she’s not the only one. Every character and event falls under the category of painfully predictable”. Hawthorne ended on August 16, 2011, after three seasons. While she reprised the voice role of Gloria in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012), which made over US$746 million, she also voiced the character in the NBC Christmas special Merry Madagascar (2009) and the direct-to-DVD film Madly Madagascar (2013).
Commercial success (2014–present)
Beginning in 2014, Pinkett Smith starred in the first season of the FOX crime drama Gotham, as Gotham City gangster Fish Mooney. She returned, recurrently, in the second and third seasons of the series. In 2015, she starred in the comedy Magic Mike XXL, as the manager of a star stripper club, opposite Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello. The film made US$122.5 million worldwide. She starred with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate in the comedy Bad Moms (2016), as the sidekick of a domineering parent-teacher association head. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the cast and humor, though did not feel it could “take full advantage of its assets”. The film, nevertheless, earned more than US$183.9 million.
Pinkett Smith next took on the role of a nurse and uptight mom in the comedy Girls Trip (2017), alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish. The film was chosen by Time magazine as one of its top ten films of 2017, and grossed US$140 million worldwide, including over US$100 million domestically, the first comedy of 2017 to do so. In July 2017, Pinkett Smith appeared at the Essence Festival where, on the Empowerment Stage, she appeared to talk alongside Queen Latifah. Pinkett Smith spoke highly of the cast reflecting their characters in real life, stating that they are all women who love other women and work to empower each other, a feature that she notes as rare in Hollywood.
Beginning in May 2018, Pinkett Smith has hosted the Facebook Watch talk show Red Table Talk, which features her mom and her daughter and focuses on a wide range of topics, with these being watched from three different perspectives. In a positive review, USA Today’s Maeve McDermott praised the series for its “insightful guests, no-holds-barred topics and Smith’s magnetic hosting presence”.
I listened to all kinds of metal as a kid. Metallica, Guns N’ Roses. I would always look at Axl Rose and say, “Why aren’t there any chicks out there doing this now?” I always wanted an opportunity to get out there and rock out.
—Pinkett Smith on why she created Wicked Wisdom
Under the name Jada Koren, Pinkett Smith formed the metal band Wicked Wisdom in 2002. The band consists of Pinkett Smith performing lead vocals, Pocket Honore (guitar, vocals), Cameron “Wirm” Graves (guitar, keyboard, vocals), and Rio (bass, vocals). The band is managed by James Lassiter and Miguel Melendez of Overbrook Entertainment, a company co-founded by Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith.
The band’s self-titled debut album was released on February 21, 2006, by Pinkett Smith’s production company 100% Womon and Suburban Noize Records. Will Smith served as the project’s executive producer. The album made it to Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers chart, and peaked at number 44 during the week of March 11, 2006. AllMusic reviewer Alex Henderson said of the album, “[Pinkett Smith] shows herself to be an expressive, commanding singer” and that “[Wicked Wisdom] shows considerable promise”. The band promoted the album in 2006, touring with heavy metal band Sevendust.
Onyx Hotel Tour
Wicked Wisdom landed a slot on Britney Spears‘ Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004, one of the year’s highest-profile tours. The band opened for Spears for eight dates in April and May 2004, during the European leg of the tour.
In 2005, Sharon Osbourne went to see Wicked Wisdom perform at a small nightclub in Los Angeles. She said, “I was blown away. When you see and hear Jada with her band it’s apparent that she has nothing but love and respect for this genre of music”. In May 2005 organizers announced Wicked Wisdom would perform on the second stage of 2005’s Ozzfest. Fans of the festival were outraged, claiming the band did not have the credibility to perform at the music festival. Aware of the questions about the band’s addition to Ozzfest, Pinkett Smith said, “I’m not here asking for any favors. You’ve got to show and prove. And not every audience is going to go for it.” Wicked Wisdom’s guitarist Pocket Honore said while early dates of the tour were rocky, “once word got out that we weren’t a joke, people started coming out and by the sixth or seventh gig we were on fire”. Pinkett Smith agreed, saying, “After seven dates within the Ozzfest tour, the whole attitude of it started to turn around once the word of mouth started getting out.”
After opening her music company 100% Women Productions, Pinkett Smith created her own fashion label, Maja, in 1994. The clothing line features women’s T-shirts and dresses embellished with the slogan “Sister Power”, sold primarily through small catalogs.
In 2003, Pinkett Smith and Smith helped to create the television series All of Us, which aired on UPN/The CW. Pinkett Smith published her first children’s book, Girls Hold Up This World, in 2004. “I wrote the book for Willow and for her friends and for all the little girls in the world who need affirmation about being female in this pretty much masculine world. I really tried to capture different sides of femininity. I want girls in the world to feel powerful, to know they have the power to change the world in any way they wish.”
In 2005, Pinkett Smith became one of many celebrities to invest a combined total of US$10 million in Carol’s Daughter, a line of beauty products created by Lisa Price. She became a spokesman for the beauty line, and said, “To be a part of another African American woman’s dream was just priceless to me.”
Together with Will, Pinkett Smith has created the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, a charity which focuses on youth in urban inner cities and family support. Her aunt, Karen Banfield Evans, is the foundation’s executive director. The charity was awarded the David Angell Humanitarian Award by The American Screenwriters Association (ASA) in 2006. The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation has provided grants to non-profit organizations such as YouthBuild, and Pinkett Smith has made personal donations to organizations such as Capital K-9s.
When Pinkett Smith’s aunt, Karen Banfield Evans, was diagnosed with lupus, the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, in association with the Lupus Foundation of America and Maybelline, held the first annual “Butterflies Over Hollywood” event on September 29, 2007, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. The event raised funds for LFA public and professional educational programs. The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation was presented with an award in 2007 at the 4th Annual Lupus Foundation of America Awards.
In 2012, on behalf of PETA, Pinkett Smith wrote a letter to Baltimore’s mayor, asking that the visiting Ringling Brothers Circus “comply with Baltimore’s absolute prohibition of the use of devices such as bullhooks” and not harm the elephants. In 2013, she appeared in a video clip for Gucci‘s “Chime for Change” campaign that aims to raise funds and awareness of women’s issues globally.
Pinkett Smith dated former basketball player Grant Hill while he attended the Duke University. Pinkett Smith was also very close friends with American rapper, Tupac Shakur (also known by his stage name 2Pac). 
Pinkett Smith with her husband and children at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Concert
Jada met Will Smith in 1994 on the set of Smith’s television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when she auditioned for the role of his character’s girlfriend, Lisa Wilkes. She was considered too short and the role went to actress Nia Long. Will and Jada began dating after he separated from Sheree Fletcher. Prior to this, Will had grown an attraction to Jada, but did not act on it. Jada eventually moved from her hometown of Baltimore to California to be with him. On December 31, 1997, while Jada was three months pregnant, about 100 guests attended their wedding at The Cloisters, near her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Regarding her marriage, Jada said that they are “private people” and told one interviewer, “I will throw my career away before I let it break up our marriage. I made it clear to Will. I’d throw it away completely”. The pair produce films through their joint production company, Overbrook Entertainment and Westbrook Inc.
In April 2013, Pinkett Smith caused many to believe she and Will were in an open marriage after stating in an interview: “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay’. Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man”. However, she denied such, clarifying her statements on Facebook, writing: “Open marriage? The statement I made in regard to, ‘Will can do whatever he wants’, has illuminated the need to discuss the relationship between trust and love and how they co-exist”.
Will commented in 2008 on their parenting styles: “We’re not strict but we definitely believe it’s a very important component for rearing children. It creates safety for them. They understand that they need guidance.” The family resides in a 27,000 square foot (2,500 m2) home, on 100 acres (40 ha), in Malibu.
After meeting Tom Cruise during the filming of Collateral in 2004, Pinkett Smith and Smith donated US$20,000 to the Hollywood Education and Literacy Program (HELP), Scientology‘s basis for homeschooling.
Affair with August Alsina
In late June 2020, singer August Alsina claimed that he and Jada had been involved in an affair in 2016, with Will Smith’s permission. A spokesman for Pinkett Smith denied the claims, saying they were “absolutely not true”. On July 10, during an episode of Red Table Talk featuring Will Smith, Pinkett Smith confirmed an “entanglement” with Alsina during her separation from Will, although not with Will’s permission. Jada said Alsina misconstrued it as permission because she and Will were “separated amicably”. Pinkett Smith further claimed she wanted to “heal” Alsina, but needed to find healing for herself first. She eventually got back with Will after breaking things off with Alsina and stated she has not spoken to him since.
After Pinkett Smith’s use of the word “entanglement” went viral on the Internet, Alsina released a collaboration titled “Entanglements” with rapper Rick Ross on July 19, 2020, singing “The definition of entanglement is when you get tangled in the sheets”.
FilmographyAwards and nominationsYearAwardCategoryWorkResultRef2001NAACP Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureAliNominated2003Teen Choice AwardsChoice Movie Actress – Drama/Action AdventureThe Matrix ReloadedNominatedNAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureThe Matrix RevolutionsNominated2006NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Literary Work – Children’s“Girls Hold Up This World”Won2010NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesHawthorneWonPrism AwardsPerformance in a Drama EpisodeNominated2013Behind the Voice Actors AwardsBest Vocal Ensemble in a Feature FilmMadagascar 3: Europe’s Most WantedNominated2015NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesGothamNominatedPeople’s Choice AwardsFavorite Actress in a New TV SeriesNominated2019MTV Movie & TV AwardsMTV Trailblazer AwardJada Pinkett SmithWonNAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Host in a Talk, Reality, News/ Information or Variety (Series or Special)Red Table TalkWon2020NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Host in a Talk, Reality, News/ Information or Variety (Series or Special)WonDaytime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Informative Talk ShowNominatedOutstanding Informative Talk Show HostNominated2021NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Host in a Talk, Reality, News/ Information or Variety (Series or Special)NominatedReferences
- Official website
- Jada Pinkett Smith at IMDb
- Jada Pinkett Smith at AllMovie
- Wicked Wisdom
- New Village Leadership Academy
Jada Koren Pinkett