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