Dark Secrets Jada Pinkett Smith Tried To Hide

The following article includes references to addiction, mental health struggles, and suicidal ideation.

In another life, Jada Pinkett Smith would have been an attorney. By the time she clocked 18, Jada was an arts graduate, and enrolled at the North Carolina School of the Arts when the Hollywood bug bit. Jada, who'd been persuaded to move to California by her friend, Tupac Shakur, told her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, "You got two choices. ... I could go to L.A. and see if I can do this Hollywood thing, or I could become a lawyer and take all my dramatics to the court," as she narrated on the "On Purpose with Jay Shetty" podcast in October 2023. Banfield-Norris picked Tinseltown. Armed with a self-starting attitude, Jada landed her first acting gig as Beverly in the Fox sitcom "True Colors." Her breakout came in the early '90s in the form of the character Lena James in "A Different World" after a few short-lived television appearances. 

Although she thought fame and money would bring her joy, it didn't. Jada purchased a farm in her hometown, Baltimore, and was set to live a life away from the spotlight when Will Smith called and asked her to be his girlfriend. "She got on a plane, came back to L.A., and never spent one night in her farm in Baltimore," Will shared on "Red Table Talk" in 2018. Together, the couple has built an entertainment empire. Massive as it is, it's not without its fair share of well-kept secrets, some of which have made their way to the public.

She used to deal drug in her teens

Jada Pinkett Smith's Baltimore upbringing was surrounded by drugs. At home, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, was addicted to heroin. Out in the streets, residents of her hometown often came in contact with drugs in one way or another. "Drugs were going to touch you, period. You could use them, you could sell them, but there was no being in an environment like that and drugs not touch you," Smith revealed in an October 2023 interview with People.

The future star eventually became a peddler as a way to make ends meet. Her goal was to be able to support herself to the point of self-reliance. "I wasn't trying to use drugs," Smith told the publication. "... But I wanted money so that I could be independent. I wanted to take care of myself." Although the habit was illegal, Smith would compensate for it by being generous toward the needy. While it helped Smith survive financially during this time, she admitted, "It put me into a lot of danger and I hurt a lot of people along the way."

In the course of her dark past, Smith met Tupac Shakur. Unfortunately, she was ready to leave the lifestyle behind, as she revealed on Sway's Universe in 2017, but Shakur was just getting in. When Smith finally left Baltimore, the bold and vigilant spirit she'd exhibited in her dealings became her tools for surviving the cut-throat entertainment business in Los Angeles.

Jada Pinkett Smith passed out from taking ecstasy

When she moved to Los Angeles, Jada Pinkett Smith would often take a mix of ecstasy, alcohol, and marijuana. Her choices, she said, were influenced by the fact that she thought she wouldn't get addicted (as opposed to reliance on cocaine or heroin). Nonetheless, her tolerance levels shot to an all-time high as she partied through the weekend.

Smith's work wasn't affected by her routine, but one time, things got out of hand on the set of 1996's "The Nutty Professor" when she lost consciousness in the makeup trailer. "I went to work high, and it was a bad batch of ecstasy," she recounted on a 2021 episode of "Red Table Talk," adding, "I told everybody that I must have had old medication in a vitamin bottle." The incident wasn't enough to get Smith to swear off her unhealthy pattern. Since she was once used to hard liquor, she found an easy drink in red wine.

"Drinking red wine for me was like drinking glasses of water," Smith continued, adding that it eventually led to her wake-up call. "... Once I was going for that third bottle of wine, I said, 'You've got a problem,'" she shared. Smith abruptly withdrew from drinking, and since then, has only taken wine in more proportional and healthier ways.

The actor had a feud with Gabrielle Union

For close to two decades, Jada Pinkett Smith and "Being Mary Jane" star Gabrielle Union didn't see eye to eye. Not that the pair was extremely warm toward each other before, but the little conversance they shared fizzled out for no major reason. "Every time we would see each other, we were always cordial, always nice, but there was always tension," Smith told Union during a joint conversation on "Red Table Talk." The two actors couldn't so much as take a picture or greet each other in a public setting without an ounce of anxiousness getting in the way.

In her May 2018 chat with Union, Smith shared that she was in a phase of making amends, and squashing the subtle hostility she had toward Union — one which the public hadn't been privy to until then — aided in that journey. In turn, Union expressed how relieved she was. "It was like a gorilla hopped off my back, that I didn't even know was there. And I needed that. ... I needed you, so thank you," she heartily told the "Hawthorne" actor.

Jada Pinkett Smith planned her suicide

In her early 20s, Jada Pinkett Smith experienced a sudden surge of emotions while driving, as she narrated on "The Diary of a CEO" in October 2023. One minute, the actor was making a turn to catch up with a friend, and the next, a wave of intense anger, fear, and despair hit her, which was accompanied by trembling and crying. She couldn't get herself to drive afterward. "I pull over, and then I just remember feeling terrified to just let it go, and I let it go, and then I'm like, 'I wanna die,'" Smith recalled. Unaware of what had taken over her at the time, a distressed Smith made a call to her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her friend, MC Lyte, both of whom came to her aid. Smith noted, "I think my mind was telling me, 'Hey, we have some things we got to pay attention to up here. Enough with, 'Let's keep it moving.'"

Years later, when she turned 40 in 2011, Smith was overcome by suicidal thoughts again. The actor orchestrated a plot to kill herself and make it look like it was accidental, as she disclosed on "On Purpose with Jay Shetty." "That was a really painful time," she told the podcast host, while struggling to hold her tears back. "I'm really grateful that I found a way out." Jada, who'd been struggling with self-hatred, had also made a mental health realization that anxiety ran in her family and noted that plant medicine is what helped her work through this negative self-talk.

Her real connection to Scientology

For years, it's been rumored that Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, and their family practiced Scientology. Their alleged affiliation with the controversial religion stirred the hornet's nest when ex-Scientologist Leah Remini revealed in her 2015 book "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology" that Will and Jada took part in a bizarre game of hide-and-seek at Tom Cruise's Californian home. When she appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in 2018, Jada passed the game off as just some friends having fun with their young kids. 

Also in 2018, a year after Remini claimed to the Daily Beast that Jada was indeed a Scientologist (which the "Gotham" star denied on Facebook), Jada had a sit-down with Remini on "Red Table Talk," in which she disclosed her true connection to Scientology. "My grandmother was like, 'You're gonna learn all the religions, and then you've got to decide which one you wanna practice,'" Jada explained. "So, for me, all religions have been my home. Which is why I didn't have a problem going to the Church of Scientology and saying, 'I'm not a Scientologist. I wanna just be here and see what you have to offer.'"

Remini, in turn, disclosed that, at the time Jada was making appearances at the organization, she was tasked with maintaining a perfect image in order to draw her in. Jada, she said, received premium treatment because of her celebrity status.

Jada Pinkett Smith developed her own racial and social biases

Jada Pinkett Smith was discriminated against for various reasons when she was growing up. "[I] kinda [was] being picked on for being light skin," Smith shared during a discussion on colorism in a 2020 episode of "Red Table Talk," adding that she was cautioned by close family members against disclosing other aspects of her ancestry in order to emphasize celebrating her Blackness in the face of white supremacy. Smith was also ridiculed for her hair and general appearance by her white peers.

As a result, she developed her own social and racial bias, albeit subconsciously. "I do have my own biases, specifically with blonde women," Smith admitted during a 2018 "Red Table Talk" conversation on racial divides. "Blonde hair on white women just triggers me, and I've had to catch myself." This has also played itself out in Smith's professional life. One time, she shared, her initial instinct was to decline an interview because of the white interviewer's blonde hair color. "And I was like, 'Ooh! That's no different.'"

In a series of 2019 tweets, Smith revealed that sitting on the judges' bench at the Sundance Film Festival was another teachable moment for her. "I learned that my racial and social biases against others was as strong as theirs against me," she partly wrote, adding, "I felt ugly inside and I immediately knew in my heart that although some of my feelings and thoughts were justified ... I could not consider them acceptable if I wanted to be a part of changing the racial climate in our country."

The star's 'entanglement' with August Alsina

The world awoke to news that R&B singer August Alsina had been romantically linked to Jada Pinkett Smith in July 2020. Alsina dropped the bombshell soon after the release of his third studio album "The Product III: State of Emergency" during a conversation with radio personality Angela Yee. Jada and Alsina first crossed paths in London when the latter attended a joint concert by her children, Willow and Jaden Smith, in 2015. "He was like, 'Man, I could really use some help dealing with life,'" Jada revealed on a 2018 episode of "Red Table Talk," noting that Alsina had been struggling with addiction. "... The family as a whole has been pretty much on this journey with August towards his healing." 

Following Alsina's revelation years later, Jada and Will Smith had an infamous heart-to-heart on her Facebook Watch show, during which they confirmed that they were hell-bent on working on Alsina's mental health when they first got acquainted. "When Aug first came around, he was really sick," Will recalled. "... The outpouring for him from our family was initially about his health." 

At the time, Jada said, she and Will were going through a rough patch that had warranted an amicable separation. "From there, as time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August," she admitted. The "All of Us" co-creator noted that Will had been under no obligation to endorse what she admitted had been a relationship, as Alsina had claimed, but also emphasized that the musician was "not a homewrecker."

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been separated since 2016

In an October 2023 interview with "Today," conducted ahead of the release of her memoir "Worthy," Jada Pinkett Smith surprisingly revealed to Hoda Kotb that she and Will Smith had been leading separate lives since 2016. It was essentially an informal divorce, albeit one that didn't go through a legal process. Prior to this, while the Smiths mentioned that they had parted ways briefly on their 2020 "Red Table Talk" tell-all, it didn't seem as serious because they still appeared as a couple in public. When Jada was asked why they kept putting up a front for so long, she said, "I think, just [us] not being ready, yet. Still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership, right? And in regard to, 'How do we present that to people?' And we hadn't figured that out."

Jada's astonishing admission also brought a new angle to Will's infamous 2022 Oscars slap. While Will yelled, "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!" at comedian Chris Rock following an insensitive joke related to her alopecia, Jada was in a state of bewilderment. "There was an aspect of that, that I was as shocked as anyone, because Will and I hadn't been referring to each other as husband and wife since 2016," she shared with "On Purpose with Jay Shetty." But there was even more to the Jada-Will-Rock situation, given that Rock had allegedly asked Jada out on a date in light of false divorce reports years prior, as Jada revealed to People.

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