Jada Pinkett Smith Reflects on Her Own Tough Past After Talking With Demi Moore and Her Daughters
"Where Demi and I sat, that's a parallel line right there," she tells InStyle.
Somehow, Jada Pinkett Smith is all the things at once. As she enters the room for her interview with InStyle, she has a calming yet powerful presence about her, and while her answers are unrehearsed, she’s thoughtful when she speaks. That balance is part of what makes her the perfect host of Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk. Along with her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, and daughter, Willow Smith, Pinkett Smith not only interviews notable guests, but also has full, open conversations, sharing details about her own life as well.
That's what happened when Demi Moore came to chat with two of her daughters, Rumer and Tallulah Willis, around her new memior, Inside Out. On the episode, bombshells were dropped about Moore, her family, and the personal struggles they went through, but Pinkett Smith couldn't help but point out the similarities in her own life, which made it all the more fascinating to watch.
Ahead, the star reveals how her and Moore's lives are in some ways parallel, and talks about the benefit of having multiple generations on the show, as well as how she's always been curious about human behavior.
Why was Red Table Talk the perfect place to have this conversation?
Mine and Demi’s histories are very similar — she's a child of an addict, I'm a child of an addict. We've struggled with codependency issues and our issues with addiction. And now that we're mothers, we’re looking at how our codependency and addictions have affected our children. This episode is really about generational trauma and how you break the cycles. I think we were the perfect place, because we are a family that is still in the process of healing from that, as they are, so there's so much there that we can relate to.
You seemed to relate not only to Demi, but also to her daughters’ story as well. Can you talk about that?
I'm a mother who has struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, codependency, issues with addiction. So when I'm listening to Demi talk, I'm like, "Yeah." But I'm also a child of an addict. So when I hear Tallulah, Rumer, and Scout — even though Scout wasn't with us, but I just saw her at Willow's birthday party this weekend and got to hang out with her — it’s like, "I get it. I understand." I understand both perspectives. And when I hear Demi talk about her relationship with her mom, I get that, too. It's different than even Willow and my mother, because my mother's not a child of an addict. And Willow's not the child of an addict in the same way that I was a child of an addict with my mom. So where Demi and I sat, that's a parallel line right there. I saw it all.
When doing interviews with people you know personally, do you ever feel like you have to hold back in a way, or be more sensitive to the situation?
I always want to be sensitive no matter who it is, because we're always coming to talk about very sensitive issues. There’s a certain care that you have to have in also wanting to be honest. Also, we're not just asking questions. I like to call it more of a storytelling show instead of a talk show because in this episode, you watch Demi sharing her story, and her girls are sharing their story. I'm sharing my story. My mother, Willow, sharing their stories. We’re all in it together. I think that that also creates a feeling of safety to have a different kind of conversation.
Why was it so important to have multiple generations in that conversation?
Because it's so many different perspectives and realities, and that's life. My mother's a baby boomer, so she comes from, "It's black or white. It's right or wrong. There's no in between." We call them the judgers, okay? I'm kind of in between. I have a little bit of that, but I also have a little bit of, "Hey, we’ve got to sprinkle some of that new stuff up in here. We’ve got to sprinkle some of that new-age kind of parenting," or what have you. "Everything's not always so black and white — but sometimes it is." Then Willow comes from the generation of "Anything goes, man." Everybody's coming up with these new terms of fluidity and it’s like, "Anything can be." It's really awesome to talk about these issues from those three different perspectives.
Does having them there empower you in a way, or allow you be more comfortable?
Oh, absolutely. They're very smart, and what makes it really interesting is that they're very opinionated. Everybody has their own seat, meaning none of us are there to cater to each other. I mean, sometimes I'm looking at Gammy like, "All right, Gam, you’re going hard right now." But you can't hold Gammy back. Gammy is who she is. She's earned it. She's lived the life that's earned for her to say whatever the hell she wants. You know what I mean? Sometimes, I'm looking at her like, "Really? You want to do that?" But that's what I really love. We are three very strong, opinionated women that are looking at things from very different perspectives.
How are you able to find the balance between talking to people and saying ‘I relate to that,’ but then also not making it about yourself?
I'm always careful of that. It's like, "It's not about you." It’s just having those moments where you say, "I get that and this is why," and then going straight to, "So what happened when you did such and such?" It is a balance. It's part of just learning the art of conversing, I guess, and communing at the same time.
On the show, you talk a lot about why we behave certain ways. Are you constantly thinking about motives for everything?
I do. I'm trying to get out of my head in a way, but I'm always self-analyzing and looking at everything. "Oh, so that's connected to that and that's why that happened. And then if you stop that there, you can prevent..."
Do you feel like your curiosity about human behavior stems from acting, and that this is just is an extension of that?
I think that came first. I've always been interested in human behavior, even as a kid just watching people. Like, "Why do people do the things that they do? Why do they say the things they say? Why is she wearing that?" Why people make the choices that they make. I've always been able to use that in my acting, but my interest and intrigue about people came first. I love Red Table Talk because now I get to really hear people's stories and have deep understanding about why and how things are the way that they are. Why they are the way that they are. I have real intrigue about that.