In the ever-evolving saga of Jada Pinkett Smith’s life, the actress is pulling no punches when it comes to sharing the juicy details about the wild 2022 Oscars slap and some of the events leading up to that explosive moment.
In an exclusive interview with People to promote her forthcoming memoir, “Worthy,” Smith revisits the night her husband, Will Smith, struck Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars, triggered by a wisecrack aimed at Jada’s alopecia.
Since the Oscars incident, Jada hasn’t exchanged words with Chris Rock. But she’s holding on to a glimmer of hope that everyone involved can find “peace.”
“No, I haven’t talked to Chris” she said. “[Do I have] any desire to talk to Chris? Here’s my desire: I just hope that all the misunderstanding around this can be cleared up and that there can be peace,” she adds.
Reflecting on the past, Jada, 52, shares her perspective. She believes there’s a significant misunderstanding between her and Chris, particularly regarding the 2016 Oscars.
Back then, Will was snubbed for his role in “Concussion,” and the nominations overlooked actors of color. Jada passionately supported the #OscarsSoWhite movement and called for a boycott of the awards show.
In the midst of hosting that year’s Oscars, Rock included jabs at Jada in his monologue. Even in his recent Netflix comedy special, he claimed Jada had urged him to quit the hosting gig out of solidarity.
Jada admits to not fully grasping the immense pressure Chris might have been under at the time. She reflects, “I probably should have called him and gone, ‘Hey, are you okay? And just know that although I’m speaking out about the Oscars, I do wish you the best, and I just want you to know that,’ me taking the time to have called him and said that, just to touch base. But his feelings might’ve been hurt,” she says.
But, Jada acknowledges, “All we can ever do is just look at our part and see where could I have done something that would’ve seemed as if… Whatever misunderstanding might’ve been created, what could I have done to avoid that misunderstanding? The one thing that I think about is that call.”
Jada reveals that Chris, 58, did call her in 2016, and she thought they had moved past their differences.
“He apologized, and I apologized to him as well,” she says. “So I actually thought that we were good, that the hatchet was buried between us. And we hadn’t talked since then, until 2022 came.”
Immediately after the slap, Jada recalls Chris approaching her during a break in the live broadcast while presenting an award.
“Chris came down to the end of the stage and tried to apologize to me. He said, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm.’ I said, ‘I can’t talk about this now, Chris. This is some old s—.’ I thought this was [about] the Oscar 2016 and … their stuff that they had before I even came into the picture in the late ‘80s. I’ve got to leave that to Will and Chris to talk about, but they got their stuff for sure,” she said.
But was Jada, who grapples with alopecia, genuinely offended by the joke that ignited the Oscars incident, with Chris making light of her shaved head?
“I mean, that’s what comedians do,” says Jada. “I would just have to say that I am not really here to make any judgment on how people decide to express themselves and express their art. I’ll say that several times I’ve had my feelings hurt, for sure. I’ve had my feelings hurt a lot by Chris. But at the end of the day, too, being in the spotlight, it comes with the territory.”
In her memoir, Jada also drops the bombshell that Chris once asked her out on a date. Explaining further she reveals, “I think every summer all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce.” She continues, “And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce. So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.'”
“And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumors.’ He was appalled,” Jada recalls. “And he profusely apologized, and that was that.”
Will, aged 55, has since issued an apology for the Oscars incident and resigned from the Academy, which imposed a 10-year ban on his attendance at its events.
Reflecting on that fateful night, Jada admits she initially thought it was all part of a skit, taking a moment to grasp the gravity of what had transpired.
“From where I was sitting I couldn’t tell. It didn’t look like Will hit Chris, because, number one, I’d seen Will in the boxing ring with pro fighters — Will’s a heavy-hitter. So when Chris moved, it looked like he ducked or he missed the shot. And when he continued to stand, and then when he continued to walk down to the end of the stage, I was like, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way that Will hit him.'”
She adds, “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit. I was in as much of a fog as anybody else in that room that night.”
So, as Jada continues to make headlines and share her truth, it’s clear that her story is far from over. With every twist and turn, fans and critics alike will be eager to see what she reveals next and how her narrative unfolds in the ever-entertaining world of Hollywood.