Get to Know Jada Pinkett Smith, Actor, Producer & Entrepreneur | The 2019 MAKERS Conference
Jada Pinkett Smith is a force of nature in Hollywood and beyond. She’s starred in over 30 films, from Menace II Society to Girls Trip; has been on dozens of TV shows; and started her own web video series, “Red Table Talk,” in 2018. Together with her husband Will Smith, she’s also raised a family and started a philanthropic foundation.
JADA PINKETT SMITH: You can't tell me what being a woman means for me and what that looks like. You're not allowed to tell me what my motherhood should look like. You're not allowed to tell me what my strength should look like. You're not allowed to tell me what my vulnerability should look like. That is for me to decide. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. My mother had me at a very young age and we lived with my grandparents. My grandmother wanted me to learn about everything. So I had to take piano lessons, I had to learn French, I took ballet, I took tap, I took everything you could imagine. People loved my energy, people thought was really talented, but I was really rough around the edges. And I got a couple of people they're like, "You'll never work, your east coast accent is too strong." And I would just sit there and I'd go, "OK. We'll see about that." But to be able to do a movie like "Menace II Society" at that time, which was about urban culture in Los Angeles, what I realized is that there really isn't that much difference between the emotional and psychological aspects of living in urban neighborhoods. Whether you're on the east coast or the west coast. It's all the same pain, it's all the same frustration. They told me I was too short. But I've met Will, and we became really good friends. And then he went through a divorce and we decided to date. And then that was history. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, many years later, came back trying to get me to play his longtime girlfriend on his show. And I was like, "Nope. I'm a movie star now. Boy, bye." It was a heyday for black talent. We came into Hollywood, all we had to do was come ready and kick the door down. Right? And then it kind of eased down, the fad went out. Right? And so that was tough. You had to tone down your blackness in order to be acceptable. And there were some of us that were able to crossover into white culture, more mainstream projects. So, "Matrix," for instance. But there were only a few of us. Here we are at the red table. Yes. Ladies, once again, today's subject matter is mental illness. We are talking about addiction. We are going to be talking about race and racial relations between women. I called it "Red Table Talk" because it's a place of purification, that fire, burn, it's hot. Sometimes sitting is not the most comfortable. My mother is 65, I'm 47, Willow's 18. So you are talking about three very different viewpoints. I think that I've learned over the years, people are going to tell you everything that's wrong about you. And if you're not clear on everything that's right, and everything that's beautiful about you, people will steal you. And so it's just a matter of really having the courage to create the life that is specific to you and no one else. And to have a family that loves each other, and supports each other, that's my greatest accomplishment.