Jada Pinkett Smith Opens Up About Redefining Her Marriage With Will
Despite their best efforts to control the messaging around their marriage, Hollywood power duo Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have managed to fill the rumor mill with relationship gossip time and time again over the 21 years they've been together. From talk that they are swingers to more recently, rumors that Jada had beef with Will’s past co-stars, Vivica A. Fox and Garcelle Beauvais, there seems to be a constant stream of stories about the pair and their relationship.
Jada sat down with Instyle ahead of the release of new episodes of her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk and got candid about the truth behind the rumors.
Did it bother her when, in honor of Will’s 50th birthday in September, first Beauvais (Will’s costar in the 1999 film Wild, Wild West) and then Fox (his costar in the ’96 film Independence Day) shared photos on social media of themselves locked in on-screen kisses with her husband? Hardly. “Look, I know both of those women, and I love both of those women to death, and they’re both very playful, and trust me, ain’t nothing going down,” laughs Jada. “I never get caught up in all that.”
The couple also recently turned heads when it was revealed that Will was a guest in an upcoming episode of Red Table Talk — a bold move, even for such a forthcoming couple. “I felt like [having Will on the show] was important, because people are struggling in their relationships, and we both felt like we are in a place now where we can [talk about what we’ve learned], so we should,” shares Jada. “I know in my life, some of the most powerful gifts I’ve been given are women’s testimonies. Specifically, when I went to [Denzel's wife] Pauletta Washington, and I went to Ruby Dee, and I went to Salma Hayek: These were three women who gave it to me so real and so raw that it changed my trajectory and thoughts around everything. It gave me the power to think about things differently, and the courage to shape my life how I needed it to be.”
Thinking about things differently seems to be a common thread in Jada’s life, as in her marriage. “I think the idea that because you love someone and someone loves you that this person now has to live only for you, for me, that’s just never worked,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to drop the word ‘marriage’ altogether and decided to have a life partnership. I just don’t believe in some of the ideas that society has decided to put around marriage.” But that doesn’t mean to Will and Jada "swing," or many of the other misconceptions that people have read into the couple’s redefining their relationship. “Will and I really do honor the ideas of marriage, but I don’t think anyone should be in something that doesn’t look like they want it to look, so for us, that meant calling it something else,” Jada explains.
That revelation came after losing another important male figure in her life: her father. “There was a moment, maybe a year and a half after my father died, and I was sitting in meditation and prayer, and a thought came over me that I couldn’t believe that I had allowed my father to die without seeing him as a man,” she says. “Meaning, I could only ever relate to him as my father, and because he failed as a father, he failed as a man. But he had so much to offer outside of being my father, if I had just been able to see him as a human being.”
It was that realization that caused Jada to see she was pushing Will into the same type of tiny box: that of only being her husband. But changing up the terminology around their union helped her rectify this. “I’ve learned to love Will unconditionally, and in his freedom. He’s got to have himself first, just like I must have myself first, and then along the way, whatever we have together,” she explains. “But that cannot be shaped and forged out of my discontent, or my insecurity or out of my needing him to fill a void for me that my father left behind. That is not his job.”
The actress and mom of Willow, 17, and Jaden, 20, was quick to add that this "advanced" attitude toward marriage doesn’t happen immediately. “It comes in stages, you know,” she says. “We’re 21 years in. This ain’t for someone that’s seven years in. The marital situation worked in the beginning. It was what we needed. But now, we’re transforming into something else, and who knows, in that fluidity, what it will turn into again. We don’t know!”
One thing is for certain, you can get more of Jada’s philosophies on life and love and her signature candor tuning into her show Red Table Talk on Facebook Watch. New episodes release every Monday at noon EST.