Jada Koren Pinkett Smith (1971- )

Pinkett Smith posing in a long green dress
Jada Koren Pinkett Smith at the Golden Globe Awards, January 10, 2016
Courtesy El Grillo Amarillo under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

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Jada Koren Pinkett Smith is an actress and talk show host. Pinkett was born on September 18, 1971, to Adrienne Banfield-Jones and Robsol Pinkett, Jr. in Baltimore, Maryland. Pinkett’s mother named her after her favorite soap opera actress, Jada Rowland. Her parents divorced at a young age and Pinkett was raised by her mother and her grandmother, Marion Martin Banfield. Pinkett attended the Baltimore School of the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland. While there she became friends with classmate and future hip hop superstar, Tupac “2 Pac” Shakur.

Pinkett graduated from high school in 1989 and then attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a year before dropping out. Her acting career began in 1990 when she appeared on the T.V. shows True Colors, Doogie Howser, M.D., and 21 Jump Street. In 1991, she landed a role in Bill Cosby’s TV show, A Different World, as college freshman Lena James. Pinkett remained on the show until it was canceled in 1993.

Pinkett acted in numerous films during her career, including Menace II Society (1993), Jason’s Lyric (1994), Low Down Dirty Shame (1994), Set It Off (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Bamboolzed (2000), The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). In 2009, Pinkett produced and starred in her own TV show, Hawthorne as Christina Hawthorne. The show, which generated for her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2010, aired for three seasons until it was canceled in 2011.

From 2014 to 2017, Pinkett regularly appeared on the Fox TV show, Gotham, as Fish Mooney. In 2018, she began hosting a talk show on Facebook Watch called Red Table Talk with her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne. Here she interviewed many celebrities, including Gabrielle Union, Tiffany Haddish, and her husband, Will Smith, whom she married in 1997. The show won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informative Talk Show in 2021.

Pinkett also had a brief music career as the lead singer of a Heavy Metal group called Wicked Wisdom, which was founded in 2002. The group which also included Camron “Wirm” Graves, Philip “Fish” Fisher, Pocket Honore, Rio Lawrence, Korel Tunador, and Devin Vasquez, released two studio albums, My Story (2004) and Wicked Wisdom (2006) but never achieved significant commercial success.

Pinkett’s most controversial moment came on March 27, 2022, during the 94th Academy Awards, when comedian Chris Rock, the host of the Awards, made a joke about her shaved head that was a result of a hair condition called Alopecia areata. In response to the joke, Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock, claiming he was defending his wife’s honor. This assault, witnessed by millions around the world, resulted in Smith receiving a ten-year ban from appearing at future Academy Awards shows.

Jada Pinkett’s career continues as of 2022. Pinkett and Will Smith, now married 25 years, have two children, Jaden Smith (Born 1998) and Willow Smith (Born 2000).

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