Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
“I really didn’t wanna get married,” Jada Pinkett Smith admitted during an October 2018 episode of her “Red Table Talk” Facebook series.
Pinkett Smith was joined at the round red table by her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, whom she calls “Gammy”; her husband, actor Will Smith; and their daughter, Willow, 21.
The description of the episode, titled “Becoming Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Part 1),” reads: “Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith reveal the truth behind their relationship, from the day they met to the moments of crisis in their 20-plus year marriage.” It can be viewed on Facebook.
Pinkett Smith, who was pregnant at the time with their son Jaden, now 23, said, “I was under so much pressure, you know, being a young actress, being young, and I was just, like, pregnant and I just didn’t know what to do. … I never wanted to be married.”
“We only got married because Gammy was crying.”
“It was almost as if Gammy was like, ‘You have to get married, so let’s talk about the wedding,’” she said.
“I remember feeling very strongly and wanting you guys to be married,” Banfield-Norris said. “But I don’t remember your rejection of the idea of marriage. I remember the rejection of the idea of a wedding but not of a marriage.”
Pinkett Smith explained, “And now Gammy done gone to Will, crying about ‘I don’t want a wedding,’ and now I’m being forced to have a wedding. When really I just wanted it to be the two of us on a mountain because I was like: ‘This is serious business.’”
“And I was so upset that I had to have a wedding. I was so pissed I went crying down the freaking aisle. I cried the whole way down the aisle,” she added.
Unlike Pinkett Smith, her husband was delighted on their wedding day. He told the group, “There wasn’t a day in my life that I wanted anything other than being married and having a family. From literally 5 years old, I was picturing what my family would be.”
He’d been smitten from the moment he met Jada, but he was married to Sheree Zampino.
Smith said he was out to dinner with Zampino and he was suddenly struck with the realization that he was with the wrong person. He went into the men’s room and cried. After collecting himself, he carried on, convinced that divorce was not an option. He tried to put Jada out of his mind, he said.
As fate would have it, Zampino served him with divorce papers — on Valentine’s Day.
He and Jada Pinkett married on New Year’s Eve in 1997 at the “Gothic-style Cloisters Castle in a suburb of her hometown, Baltimore, Maryland,” according to the New York Post.
Banfield-Norris said, “The wedding was horrible. It was a mess.” And she blamed it on her daughter. “Jada was sick, she was very unpleasant … She didn’t cooperate with anything.”
Few people will be surprised by this story. The dynamics that existed on their wedding day appear not to have changed much over the years.
From the perspective of a casual observer, it seems as though Smith has been willing to put up with a lot over the years to keep the marriage alive. Although he goes along with the idea of an open marriage, I imagine he would prefer marital monogamy.
Pinkett Smith, on the other hand, appears to be almost ambivalent.
She holds the power in the relationship, and we saw this play out on the national stage during the Oscars telecast on March 27, 2022.
Smith was laughing at Chris Rock’s joke until his eyes suddenly met the gaze of his angry wife. Immediately a switch was flipped and Smith snapped into action.
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