Jada Pinkett Smith (if she’s still keeping that last name) sure knows how to set it off. For the last week, the actress and former talk show host has been on a press tour promoting her new memoir “Worthy” — with an emphasis on “press.” Revelations from the 52-year-old’s life and surprising details have made headlines in just about every interview she’s done, whether on a “Dateline” special or a basketball-themed podcast.
As she has shilled for her book out Tuesday, Pinkett Smith, who was born and raised in Baltimore, has discussed her time growing up here, her relationship (er, situationship?) with still-technically-her-husband Will Smith and of course, her deep friendship with slain rapper Tupac. Here are just some of the most shocking things we’ve learned from her over the past few days.
She and Will Smith have been separated — maybe? — since 2016.
The news that shocked us all last Wednesday: In clips for her then-upcoming NBC News special, it was revealed that Pinkett Smith and Smith live completely separate lives. In the “Dateline” episode that aired Friday, she told host Hoda Kotb that the couple was “exhausted with trying” and still “stuck in their fantasy of what they thought the other person should be.”
Yes, that means when Smith infamously smacked Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards in 2022 for joking about Pinkett Smith’s sheared hairstyle and shouting “keep my wife’s name out your f---ing mouth,” they weren’t even together at the time. Pinkett Smith revealed that she was almost as surprised in that moment by him calling her his wife than the action that preceded it.
The tour continued on Monday when she added even more confusing details about their “relationship” while on “Today” that made it seem like she and Smith were no longer separated. Pinkett Smith told Kotb the couple’s relationship was now “super solid” and that they “had to go our separate ways to really look at ourselves … in order to find a way back.” She added that she and Smith “are really concentrating on healing the relationship between us.”
“At the end of the day, Will and I love each other,” she said.
Chris Rock asked her out on a date.
Speaking of Rock, Pinkett Smith details an instance in which he asked the actress out amid prior rumors that her and Smith were getting a divorce. While speaking with People magazine, she said that after explaining to Rock that “those are just rumors,” he “profusely apologized and that was that.” Just rumors, eh?
Pinkett Smith also said that the beef between her husband and Rock went back years and had little to do with her. She told Kotb that Rock immediately apologized during the Oscars ceremony and said he “meant no harm” after making a joke that Pinkett Smith should star in “G.I. Jane 2.” (Pinkett Smith has alopecia, which causes hair loss.) But she said at the time, all she could think of saying in return was “Chris, this is about some old s---.”
She sold crack during her teen years.
“I thought I was going to be a queen pin, for sure,” Pinkett Smith told People. The actress talked about how her mom being a “high-functioning heroin addict” and her house not having necessities fueled her hunger for money. Despite having “legit jobs,” too, she described the rampant drug use in Baltimore in the 1980s as “living in a war zone” and drug dealing as a way to survive. “Drugs were going to touch you, period. You could use them, you could sell them, but there was no being in an environment like that and drugs not touch you.“
She told the magazine that in addition to having a gun held against her head twice, she also threatened other people, including chasing them down an alley for a switchblade over an unpaid debt. “The number one thing that I feel like the Baltimore streets taught me was fearlessness and being able to detect danger,” Pinkett Smith told the outlet. “And I brought that to Hollywood in 1990.”
Tupac proposed to her, but there was ‘no chemistry between us.’
In a preview for her upcoming appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast, Pinkett Smith shared that Tupac, her best friend and fellow Baltimore School for the Arts alum, proposed to her while he was in Rikers Island jail on sex abuse charges. It’s no secret that the two shared an infatuation with each other, so much so that they’ve referred to each other as “soulmates,” though Pinkett Smith referred to their relationship as platonic with “no chemistry” between them other than “friendship love chemistry” in an interview with Rolling Out.
Pinkett Smith told hosts and former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson that the influential artist “needed somebody to do time with him, which I was going to do anyway” and that he “wanted to feel that solidified foundation.” But she knew the idea of them marrying wasn’t a good one. “I promise you he would’ve married me and divorced me as soon as his a-- left jail,” she said.
Experiencing ayahuasca stopped her from contemplating suicide.
Pinkett has been very open about her mental health. According to a feature with The New York Times, she writes in her book about how she looked for cliffs to drive off after her 40th birthday in 2011. Later, the father of two of Jaden’s friends told her about his “life-changing experience” on ayahuasca, which she tried. Pinkett Smith wrote that while tripping on the plant-based psychedelic, it showed her “all the unloved parts of myself needing light and love.” She said after that experience, she’d never again contemplate suicide.
She was a battle dancer.
The New York Times reported that Pinkett Smith — who would frequent Baltimore clubs, such as Fantasy, in the 1980s — had held a reputation as a “formidable battle dancer.“ Perhaps even more interesting than tales of her doing dances like the Running Man and the Cabbage Patch were the outfits that she wore. One of them included “pink hair, Girbaud baggy jeans and fresh white Reebok Princess sneakers.”