Opinion

Review: Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk

Jada Pinkett Smith along with her mother and daughter have returned to their famed Red Table Talk.  Starting the season off interviewing Will Smith, Jada and Will discussed the pain and joy in building and maintaining their 20 year marriage.  While I appreciated their willingness to share the trials of the marriage and how their different temperaments – Jada is a more low-key, traditional homebody whereas as Will is a more high energy adventurer – I was most interested in learning more about Jada.  

During the conversation Jada mentioned several things that indicated that she did not want to be in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and that she did not want to be married.  However, that all changed with she received a phone call from “golden boy,” (as my friend would put it) Will Smith, where he declared to a then single Jada that the two were now dating.  Following the conception of the couple’s first child, Jaden, the two were wed. Despite not wanting a wedding, Jada was persuaded by her mother and husband-to-be to take the walk down the aisle.  The road to 20 years was not an easy one and the husband and wife, or as they prefer, life partners, take some time to explain the challenges they faced in learning how to heal from the broken homes of their childhood and develop a way of loving one another that honored their differences and embraced their strengths.

One of the discussion points centered on Jada’s unhappiness, marked by a period about seven to ten years ago where she cried for more than 45 days straight.  However, it was never made clear to me what she was so upset about. While I understand, respect, and appreciate the family’s desire to maintain some level of privacy, I really wanted to know her reason for crying.  I am sure I am not the only one. I am not above occasional gossip, however, my desire to know did not stem from nosiness or a penchant for drama. Rather, as a woman in her early thirties, who very much values her independence and for the first time in her life is questioning whether or not she wants to marry, I identify with young Jada.  

Here was this talented woman from Baltimore whose perceived self-assuredness was equally as attractive as her smile.  I wanted to know what changed. She stated that she was done with Hollywood and had purchased a farm back on the East Coast.  I believe she also said she was not necessarily invested in getting married. What shifted for her? As a woman who I admire and respect I wanted to know more about her personal journey in hopes that it could guide or advise me on my own.  Was she mourning the loss of unrecoverable aspects of herself for that two month period? Was she envisioning the path not traveled and experiencing regret? To be clear, I am not trying to project my own fears and/or anxieties onto Jada, nor am I judging her.  I just want to know what costs were paid in moving from her envisioned life on the farm to back to the Hollywood she sought to escape. I want to know her story.

MJ VanDevere

MJ VanDevere is a doctoral candidate at a predominately white elite institution in the South who uses humor to combat racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that seek to diminish her greatness. She is a self-proclaimed “stand-up snob” who does not have a favorite comedian, so please don't ask unless you have several hours to spare. Some of her favorite movies include, Life, Dead Presidents, and Happy Feet. If, she could only do one thing for the rest of her life, it would definitely be laugh, and maybe write. Adulting is her greatest work in progress.

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