Inside Will Smith's Relationship With Jada Pinkett Smith

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have established a family of high-profile high achievers (with a huge net worth, to boot) since tying the knot in 1997 (via Brides). Will and Jada have helped to launch the careers of their highly talented children, Jaden and Willow Smith, and have often orchestrated creative collaborations within the family. One such collaboration is Jada's award-winning talk show, "Red Table Talk," which features Jada, Willow, and Jada's mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris (via People). "Red Table Talk" regularly hosts celebrity guests to lay everything on the table. Some of the most notable pieces of celebrity gossip have originated from the show, including Jordyn Woods' denial of her involvement with Tristan Thompson in 2019. In 2021, the hottest "Red Table Talk" material came from Jada and Will themselves, where they shared intimate details about their relationship over the course of several episodes.

The Smiths have recently come under light-hearted criticism by people online for their tendency to overshare details of their relationship in interviews. A petition on Change.org has even accumulated over 2,500 signatures asking for reporters to stop interviewing the couple (via CNN). As the famous duo continues to spill the tea about their marriage, here's a run-down of some of the most notable details of Will Smith's relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith.

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith met in the cutest way

On a special episode of "Red Table Talk," Jada Pinkett Smith shared how the couple first met. The episode, aptly named "Becoming Mr. and Mrs. Smith," features Jada's husband, Will Smith, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and the couple's daughter, Willow Smith. Jada kicked off the special episode by telling her husband, "Let's start with day one."

Jada explained that she had originally auditioned for the role of Will's on-screen girlfriend on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The then-19-year-old was, unfortunately, "too short" for the role, but she caught the eye of Will, who was immediately enamored with her. The role instead went to actress Nia Long, who, interestingly, was only two inches taller than Will's future wife at the time of casting (via People). "The joke that I have with Jada is that I got the job but she got the husband," Long told People.

Will met his first wife because of Jada

After meeting Jada Pinkett Smith when she auditioned for "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Will Smith was determined to be properly introduced to the stunning young actor. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Will's cousin on the show, already knew Jada. "I actually think I dated Alfonso," Jada admitted on her "Red Table Talk" episode with Will. "Alright, I've had enough of the Red Table," Will joked in response.

Will asked Alfonso to set up a chance for him to meet Jada, and the two arranged to visit a taping of "A Different World," where Jada played the role of Lena James. At the taping, however, Will met Sheree Zampino, who was attending the taping with a friend. "I went to 'Different World' to meet Jada, and met Sheree, and ended up marrying Sheree," Will explained on "Red Table Talk."

Will and Sheree were only married from 1992 to 1995 before their marriage hit the rocks, and both parties were reluctant to get divorced. "Divorce was the ultimate failure for me," Will admitted on a Father's Day episode for "Red Table Talk." "I've been hurt a lot in my adult life, but I don't think anything touches the failure of getting divorced from my 2-year-old son's mother," he continued. Sheree was equally disappointed about the couple's split. "As a single mom – I left the marriage; you deal with the guilt of the marriage not working out," Sheree said in an interview with VH1.

Will knew Jada was the one for him after an intimate conversation

By 1996, Will Smith was in a strained marriage with his first wife, Sheree Zampino (via Rolling Stone). At the time, Jada Pinkett Smith was experiencing her own relationship troubles with her then-boyfriend, Grant Hill. At a dinner party, Jada and Will found themselves to be the only guests without their significant other. Will and Jada spent the rest of the evening talking to one another and discussing their relationship problems. By the time the rest of the dinner party was ready to call it a night, Will and Jada chose to stay and keep the conversation going.

The two continued to discuss their relationships, and Will helped Jada gain some valuable insights about perspective. "That moment, I looked at him and thought, 'This guy has everything I need,'" Jada said in an interview with Rolling Stone. After the night ended, the two parted ways and didn't catch up for another six months. "When you know there's a connection, you think, 'This is not something I want to fool around with,'" Jada said.

On "Red Table Talk," they shared how, the next night, Will left a dinner with Sheree after realizing she was "not the person I was supposed to be with." Sheree eventually filed for divorce on Valentine's Day, and Will called Jada immediately after. "I said, 'Are you seeing anybody?' and she said, 'Uh, no?' I said, 'Cool, you're seeing me now.'"

Jada's mother convinced the couple to get married

Jada Pinkett Smith became pregnant with her eldest son, Jaden, two years into her relationship with Will Smith. "We only got married, because Gammy was crying," Will admitted on "Red Table Talk." Gammy is the nickname for Adrienne Banfield-Norris: Jada's mother. "I never wanted to be married," Jada admitted on the talk show. As a young and pregnant actor, Jada felt she had no choice but to appease her mother's request. Though Jada would have preferred an elopement with Will, her mother convinced her to go the full nine yards for the ceremony and reception.

In 1997, People described the event, held New Year's Eve at a "medieval-style mansion near Baltimore," as "the most lavish and secretive celebrity wedding of the year" (via Brides). Jada, Will, and her mother admitted on "Red Table Talk" that the wedding was "horrible." "Jada was sick, she was very unpleasant," her mother recalled.

The couple worked on their communication early on

After a verbal altercation at a house party just months before their wedding, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith had a serious conversation about communication. "She cursed at me, in front of 20 people at this party," Will explained on "Red Table Talk." At the time, the guests were engaged in a game of Pictionary, and Will's 2-year-old son, Trey, was sitting on his lap. The couple excused themselves to discuss the incident, where Will explained, "I grew up in a household where I watched my father punch my mother in the face. I will not create a house, a space, an interaction with a person where there's profanity and violence." The two had a heartfelt moment where they agreed on how they would carry on disagreements in the future. "It was 20 years before we used profanity in any conversation that we've had," Will continued.

The couple took communication classes to strengthen their skills and made various resolutions to keep confrontations respectful. "The ritual Will and I have is to talk about everything," Jada told People in a 2007 interview.

Their top priority was to build a family together

On her talk show, "Red Table Talk," Jada Pinkett Smith said that building a strong family was extremely important for her and Will Smith. "That was our number one priority," she reiterated. The couple raised Jaden and Willow Smith within the spotlight of the entertainment industry, with Jaden beginning an acting career and Willow creating music. Trey Smith, Will's eldest son, was raised alongside his younger siblings, but chose to pursue a quiet career in music and acting. "He wasn't as exposed to the whole Hollywood aspect of life. A lot of that was by choice because dad wouldn't leave him out," said Sheree Zampino, Trey's mother (via VH1).

As a blended family, Jada and Will's first wife, Sheree, have formed a "sisterhood," as Jada considers her stepson, Trey, as one of her own children (via Insider), though the tricky ups and downs of co-parenting were still a big part of the family's growth. Today, Trey and his father are extremely close, despite many years of experiencing a somewhat strained relationship (via Instagram). Through working out the points of tension in their blended family, the Smiths have bonded to form one of the more high-profile families in the entertainment industry today.

Will wanted to build the perfect public image of his relationship with Jada

Will Smith was devoted to making big romantic gestures for Jada Pinkett Smith in an effort to create the perfect public representation of their marriage. He built a massive and insanely lavish house for his family in Malibu, California. "The craftsmanship will always represent our union and the love of our family," Jada told Architectural Digest in 2011. Behind the scenes, however, the couple's relationship was undergoing serious tension. On "Red Table Talk," Will described how Jada "woke up and cried for 45 days straight." Despite the family's then-recent wins, with the release of "The Karate Kid" movie starring Jaden Smith and Willow Smith's hit single "Whip My Hair," conflict was brewing.

As Will became caught up in the material successes of the family, he named the man-made pond outside of their mansion after his wife, which she admittedly didn't appreciate. Will explained, "I called it her lake and she said, 'You built this house for you.'" Will elaborated on how Jada "called out" his desire to craft the perfect public image rather than listen to her and their family's needs. On her talk show, Jada explained feeling ungrateful for Will's romantic gestures and how she ultimately felt dismayed for having to give up her acting career to uphold Will's grand expectations of a publicly perfect family.

Jada had serious doubts about her marriage when she turned 40

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had to "redefine" their relationship when Jada realized she no longer could maintain Will's idea of the perfect family. The couple's conflict came to a head during Jada's 40th birthday celebration.

For her 40th, Will went all out for her birthday party and began planning the event "the day after her 37th birthday," he said on "Red Table Talk." Will had hired a documentary crew, recruited Mary J. Blige to perform, and debuted some found tapes made by Jada's grandmother during the last eight months of her life. The excessive fanfare around her birthday led Jada to reconsider her relationship with her husband. Jada told Will that the party was the "most ridiculous display of [his] ego," leading to Jada going on a journey of self-discovery. "Jada's an actress, but she had two babies, and she had to be home to raise her babies, while I got to do everything I wanted to do," Will admitted. "I forgot who Jada was," Jada said in an interview with The Guardian.

Divorce was never an option for the Smiths

Although their relationship hit an all-time low in 2011, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were resolved not to divorce. Will said that after his first divorce to Sheree Zampino, he would never get divorced again. "Divorce was never even an option," Will asserted on "Red Table Talk." "What is most important to me is my family," Jada explained. "And I knew that divorce wasn't necessary."

To save their relationship, the two, instead, "broke up" for a time, with Jada spending some time on her own in New York (via The Guardian). In the time between their separation and reunion, Will described on the talk show how he "read 50 books on marriage, and relationships, and behavioral psychology. I was not going to fail in this marriage." Will also explained that he took two years off from his career to refocus on being a better partner for Jada.

They don't consider themselves to be a traditional 'married couple'

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith shared on "Red Table Talk" that, after working on their relationship, they decided to rebrand their union as a life partnership. Jada had never been keen on the idea of getting married in the first place, even telling The Guardian in an interview, "I knew that I was not built for conventional marriage." Jada continued: "Even the word 'wife': it's a golden cage, swallow the key. Even before I was married, I was like, 'That'll kill me.'"

The two decided that happiness needs to come from within before it can come from one another. Jada more closely identifies with the concept of a loyal partnership or a "ride or die chick," as she put it on her talk show. In Will's memoir, "Will," the actor described how the couple came to the decision to leave traditional marriage behind. "We felt this vampiric relational model was unfair, unrealistic, destructive — even abusive. To place the responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery," the actor wrote (via Us Weekly). Since doing away with the expectations and loaded gender dynamics associated with marriage, they feel infinitely more free to love themselves and show up for one another.

Will and Jada have both had extramarital 'entanglements'

Since the couple first separated in 2011, rumors of extramarital flings have circulated in the media. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have had a history of being vague about such rumors and doing little to outright deny the claims. In an interview in 2015 with Howard Stern, Jada told the host, "He's got all the freedom in the world, and as long as Will can look himself in the mirror and be OK, I'm good" (via The Hollywood Reporter).

In 2015, Jada was introduced to singer August Alsina at a concert. "From there, as time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August," Jada put it on a "Red Table Talk" episode with Will. "It was a relationship, absolutely," she clarified later. August went public with his side of the story to assure the press that he felt very strongly about Jada when they were involved. "There's a lot of love there. Sometimes truth is complicated and difficult," August said in an interview with People.

Though the couple does not consider themselves to have an "open relationship," Will told GQ, "the freedoms that we've given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love." Though the interview doesn't necessarily go too far in depth about the couple's feeling's toward monogamy, the author explained that the former "Fresh Prince" "delicately explained to me" that Jada wasn't the only one who had engaged in extramarital experiences.

The Hollywood couple encountered difficulties navigating parenthood

At the height of her parents' marriage troubles in 2011, Willow Smith wanted to end her career in music in the midst of her "Whip My Hair" tour. Will Smith explained on "Red Table Talk" how Willow walked offstage after a set and told him, "'Okay, I'm done, Daddy!'" Will resisted this declaration, as Willow had just been signed to a label with Jay-Z. The next day, Willow buzzed her hair off in protest, leading her father to reconcile with the stresses the entertainment industry put on his family. Willow explained in an interview with Insider, "When something inside of you is just telling you no, you have to follow that no matter what."

While the family dealt with relationship issues within the family, they also began to experience criticisms on parenting from the media. The Smiths were visited by Child Protective Services after an image of 13-year-old Willow lying next to a 20-year-old family friend surfaced, while reports were made claiming she was malnourished (via the Daily Mail). On her talk show, Jada insisted the image was totally innocent, as the family friend was like a brother to Willow, and described her anger at the visitation with her daughter. Willow expressed her frustration with the media's negative attention turned on her family, while families of white teenagers who are regularly sexualized and abused in the media, she said, receive no backlash or investigations.

Will is a big fan of Jada's band, Wicked Wisdom

Jada Pinkett Smith is the vocalist of the nu-metal band, Wicked Wisdom, which originally formed in 2002 (via MTV). Will Smith gave Jada all the room to explore her own passions in music and cheered on his wife's performances from the sidelines (via the Daily Mail). When interviewing with MTV, Jada admitted that her rapping flow wasn't as sharp as her husband's, who had a career in hip-hop music before starring in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." "I asked him about my little rap thing on that song and he was like, 'You know, it's cool,'" she told MTV interviewers.

The whole family, in fact, supports Jada's musical endeavors. Willow Smith opened up to Rolling Stone how joining her mother on tour helped inspire her own music later on. "That was my first real tour experience, and that was the first music that I was surrounded by as a child," she said. For Mother's Day 2021, Willow reunited her mother with her former bandmates for a special episode of "Red Table Talk" and even took to joining the band for a performance of "Bleed All Over Me."