JADA ON A HIGH

Ac­tress JADA PIN­KETT SMITH, 45, rep­re­sents class and Hollywood cool. We catch up with the beauty about her new film.

True Love - - Celebrity - By SISONKE LABASE

She started her ca­reer in the early 90s with var­i­ous roles in movies and sit­coms, but what ce­mented her renown as a Hollywood star­let was star­ring in the ground­break­ing crime ac­tion movie, Set it Off, in 1996. Jada has since carved out her own path in the in­dus­try, go­ing on to act in films like The Nutty Pro­fes­sor and The Ma­trix: Reloaded. Jada cur­rently stars in sea­son 3 of the TV crime series, Gotham.

The epit­ome of class meets cool, Jada wears many hats. Not only is she an ac­tress, she’s also a busi­ness­woman, pro­ducer, singer, mother and wife. Her lat­est movie, Girls Trip, is a com­edy about four life­long friends, in which she co-stars along­side Regina Hall, Queen Lat­i­fah and Tif­fany Had­dish. The quar­tet travel to New Or­leans to at­tend the an­nual Essence Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. Like a typ­i­cal girl­friends’ get­away, it’s filled with crazy fun, sisterhood and drama.

TRUE LOVE was lucky enough to se­cure an ex­clu­sive tele­phonic in­ter­view with the gor­geous ac­tress to chat about the movie. When asked how film­ing went, she says: “The out­landish comedic feel was awe­some and I wish peo­ple have as much fun watch­ing it. It was so ex­cit­ing to film it – it was like a girls’ trip on its own.”

Jada has por­trayed so many dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters that she can’t be type­cast. Her choice of roles de­pends on whether she can con­nect with the char­ac­ter: “It re­ally just has to speak with me in some way. I was drawn to the role of Lisa be­cause the film’s about friend­ship – and women giv­ing them­selves the li­cence to cut loose.”

She and Queen Lat­i­fah have been friends since their teens. Af­ter co-star­ring in Set it Off, they’ve al­ways had each other’s backs in the in­dus­try. “I have friends I have been close with since child­hood,” says Jada. “It’s very im­por­tant to have girl­friends. The Queen (as she refers to Queen Lat­i­fah) has been a friend of mine, but I’ve gained friend­ships with the other Girls Trip ladies as well.” Jada gushes about Kofi Siri­boe es­pe­cially: “Film­ing with Kofi was a lot of fun. He’s re­ally a great guy and we just had fun to­gether.”

Her char­ac­ter, Lisa, is a nurse as well as a de­voted sin­gle mother. “What at­tracted me to the char­ac­ter,” Jada ex­plains, “is the idea of be­ing a mother and con­cen­trat­ing on your kids and your fam­ily for so long, and then you wake up from that fog and ask yourself: ‘Wow, where did I go?’ I think a lot of women can re­late. We all have that, and that’s what Lisa and I shared.”

The pint-sized star is mar­ried to ac­tor Will Smith and has raised her chil­dren to be strong and in­de­pen­dent. In­deed, still in their teens, both are forces to be reck­oned with in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and aren’t afraid to be who they are. Wil­low, 17, is a model and singer best known for her hit song Whip My Hair back in 2010. Jaden, 19, is an ac­tor and a style muse to many, thanks to his un­con­ven­tional dress sense.

In a re­cent in­ter­view pub­lished on the­jas­mine­brand.com, Jada shared her thoughts on rais­ing kids in Hollywood: “The way I look at it, is that life is tough. I grew up in Bal­ti­more City, and my life was tough. So when I look at Hollywood, if I can’t raise kids who can deal with the tough­ness in Hollywood, whereas I grew up in par­tic­u­lar neigh­bour­hoods where moth­ers are los­ing their sons and daugh­ters – Hollywood is noth­ing com­pared to that.

“So as far as I’m con­cerned, they’re good. They’re beau­ti­ful. I would have never thought that me com­ing into this world, that my con­tri­bu­tion would be chil­dren.”

She has been in Hollywood for more than 20 years and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Jada made a vo­cal stance by pub­licly de­cry­ing the lack of di­ver­sity at the Academy Awards in 2016, and calling for a boy­cott of the Os­cars af­ter nom­i­nees in the top cat­e­gories were all white. Jada re­leased a video ex­plain­ing her stance. In it, she said: “I can’t help ask the ques­tion: is it time that peo­ple of colour recog­nise how much power and in­flu­ence we have amassed, that we no longerneed­toask­to­bein­vitedany­where.

Beg­ging for ac­knowl­edge­ment, or even ask­ing, di­min­ishes dig­nity and di­min­ishes power, and we are a dig­ni­fied peo­ple and we are pow­er­ful, and let’s not for­get it.”

And pow­er­ful she is. Jada is a part­ner at Over­brook En­ter­tain­ment, the pro­duc­tion com­pany founded with her former hus­band, pro­ducer James Las­siter, in 1997. They’ve pro­duced TV series like The Queen Lat­i­fah Show and movies in­clud­ing The Karate Kid, An­nie and Col­lat­eral Beauty.

Asked if there are strong black fe­male roles to play in Hollywood, she says: “I don’t think there are enough roles for women in gen­eral, never mind of colour. All of us are in a strug­gle to find roles in Hollywood that speak truly to what it’s like to be a woman, but I think they’re slowly trick­ling in. It’s changing.”

What is the se­cret to her longevity? “I don’t know,” she con­fesses. “All I know is that you have to be per­sis­tent and be open to change. But if you want to crack it in this in­dus­try, you have to be­come a pro­fes­sional and work on your craft, so that you can be ready when the time comes.”

In June, her friend­ship with the late rap­per Tu­pac Shakur, whom Jada met while at high school in Bal­ti­more, came un­der the spot­light with the re­lease of a new biopic called All Eyez On

Me. Jada slammed the way she was por­trayed in that movie, say­ing it wasn’t a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their friend­ship. She re­leased a series of tweets in re­sponse to the movie, say­ing: “Forgive me … my re­la­tion­ship to Pac is too pre­cious to me for the scenes in All Eyez On Me to stand as truth. Pac never read me that poem. I didn’t know that poem ex­isted un­til it was printed in his book. The reimag­in­ing of my re­la­tion­ship to Pac has been deeply hurt­ful.”

How does she stay in shape and look so good at 45? “Food is the big­gest se­cret. How you eat and what you put in your body is what mat­ters most. You don’t have to kill yourself at the gym if you have a good diet. Food is sup­posed to be medic­i­nal to keep the body healthy and strong. Ob­vi­ously, I ex­er­cise. I’m more into a yoga rou­tine or any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.”

And her beauty rou­tine? “Again, I’d say diet is the rea­son for my great skin, and I don’t drink sug­ary drinks. I stay away from a lot of juices – I drink water most of the time. If you don’t treat your body right, it will re­flect.”

Be­fore our short in­ter­view ends, I ask Jada for part­ing thoughts: “For me right now, ev­ery­thing is in its per­fect place. I am en­joy­ing where I am in my life. I feel ev­ery­thing has gone as it should be. I love be­ing a ma­ture woman. You don’t have to worry about any­thing or the stresses of youth. I’m just in a happy place.”

TOP TO BOT­TOM: HER FRIEND THE LATE TU­PAC SHAKUR, WITH HER CO-STARS IN GIRLS TRIP, AND HUS­BAND WILL SMITH.

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