Jada Pinkett Smith's Most Controversial Moments Ever

Jada Pinkett Smith was at the heart of the most shocking Oscars moment in recent history, when her husband, Will Smith, hit Chris Rock for making an unflattering joke about her. But this was far from the first time the actor has been at the heart of a controversy, especially when it comes to her family. Her marriage to Will has created a lot of rumors and internet speculation over the years, particularly after a certain affair introduced the public to the word "entanglement."

As a public figure, Jada has also clashed with fellow celebrities and been criticized for her free-spirited approach to raising her children, Willow and Jaden. "It can make you feel like you're alone, that it's only you," she admitted in 2018, per People, reflecting on how lonely fame can be. But the actor also revealed that her much-discussed series, Red Table Talk, where she opens up about personal issues, gave her "freedom" and enabled her to start larger conversations.

From the slap heard around the world to brushes with drug dealing, these are the most scandalous moments of Jada Pinkett Smith's life and career so far.

She bonded with Tupac over drug dealing

Decades after Tupac Shakur's death, people still have questions about his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith. "When I first met Pac, when we first met, I was a drug dealer," Jada recalled on Sway's Universe, explaining that they first formed a connection at the Baltimore School for the Arts. "That's how we started." 

The actor went on to clarify that "something very bad" made her leave that life behind, but while she was getting out, Shakur was getting further involved. "Pac and I's relationship was about survival," Jada explained. And as Jet reported in 1995, she once paid $100,000 to help bail out Shakur, who was being held on sexual abuse charges.

Their friendship still raises eyebrows today, especially since Will Smith admitted to being jealous of the late rapper. "In the beginning of our relationship, my mind was tortured by their connection," Will wrote in his autobiography (via Complex), explaining that "though they were never intimate, their love for each other is legendary." He also confessed that he felt too intimidated by the other man to speak to him. "The way Jada loved 'Pac rendered me incapable of being friends with him," Will added. "I was too immature."

She's been linked to Scientology

Although Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have insisted they aren't Scientologists, they've been connected with L. Ron Hubbard's church in the public eye for years. "I know Jada's in. I know Jada's in. She's been in Scientology a long time," ex-Scientologist Leah Remini told The Daily Beast in 2017. "I never saw Will there, but I saw Jada at the Celebrity Centre."

Remini, now an outspoken critic of the religion, also claimed that the Smiths once founded a school based on Scientology, though it has since been shuttered. The celebrity couple first opened New Village Leadership Academy in 2008, but the school only lasted five years before it closed. One of the academy's teaching staff confirmed that they used L. Ron Hubbard's books and Scientology-affiliated "study technology," and they displayed posters of Hubbard around the school. "I mean, it was total Scientology. There's no question," they stated.

Remini later appeared on Red Table Talk alongside Jada in 2018, where the pair settled their dispute. "My grandmother was like, 'You're gonna learn all the religions, and then you got to decide which one you want to practice,'" Jada told Remini, explaining that she had studied different religions out of curiosity. "I always took the position that I'm here at the Scientology Center to learn what I want to learn, and I have no interest in being a Scientologist."

She's been criticized for her parenting

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith are a superstar couple, so it's no surprise that their children have grown up in the limelight, too. However, as with any aspect of celebrity, being a famous parent has sometimes led to increased scrutiny for Jada.

Jada's and Will's parenting has often come under fire over the years, and in 2014, online critics were quick to weigh in on pictures of 13-year old Willow Smith with a shirtless 20-year old Moises Arias. An outraged Jada told TMZ that there was "nothing sexual about that picture or that situation," criticizing the media for putting their own biases onto the situation.

"I'm not a conventional parent, which I take a lot of pride in," she told Us Weekly, explaining that the Smiths are very open about a wide variety of subjects. In 2018, Jada also admitted that she and Will had argued over certain parenting subjects, like their son Jaden Smith wearing skirts, which provoked backlash at the time. "He had his feelings on that for sure," she revealed on Red Table Talk. "I remember Will calling me and being like, 'Have you talked about this with Jaden and him wearing a skirt?' And I said, 'Yeah I have. He's pretty happy about it.'"

The Smiths shut down rumors about their open relationship

The Smiths have received a lot of scrutiny over their marriage. In 2009, Jada Pinkett Smith addressed the rumors, bluntly telling Atlanta's Q100: "I've heard all the things — their marriage is not real, he's gay, she's gay, they swing." The actor then dismissed the idea that they had anything to prove, per Us Weekly, adding that people were going to think whatever they wanted. "It's too hard to be in a pretend marriage," she added.

Her 2013 comments to HuffPost Live added fuel to the fire, as she insisted that she and Will had no claim over each other's lives. "I've always told Will, 'You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK,'" she insisted. "I'm here as his partner, but he is his own man." She soon clarified on her Facebook page, though. "Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so," she wrote. "This does NOT mean we have an open relationship ... this means we have a GROWN one."

In recent years, however, the pair have admitted they have an unconventional approach to marriage. "For the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose," Will Smith reflected to GQ. "We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can't be a prison."

She had an affair with August Alsina

The world was shocked when R&B singer August Alsina came forward to admit he had an affair with Jada Pinkett Smith in 2015. "I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership ... he gave me his blessing," Alsina told The Breakfast Club's Angela Yee, insisting that he hadn't done anything to be ashamed of and that he loved the Smiths. "I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really deeply love and have a ton of love for her. I devoted myself to it."

But while the relationship might have occurred with honesty and communication between all parties, the age difference between Jada and Alsina raised a few eyebrows, with critics being quick to point out that Alsina had been introduced to the family as Jaden Smith's friend. 

Questions were also raised around whether Jada had taken advantage of the younger man at a vulnerable time in his life, since the 22-year old Alsina had struggled with his health, due to an autoimmune condition that had left him hospitalized on multiple occasions. "Jada [previously] said she was mentoring him ... what kind of mentoring was she giving him where he felt he gave his all to a relationship that has left him devastated and hurt?" an insider told Page Six. "You did not help him, you helped destroy him."

She took herself to the red table

In the aftermath of August Alsina's bombshell interview, Jada Pinkett Smith admitted that there was "some healing" that needed to take place and tweeted that she would be the subject of her next Red Table Talk. Will Smith also appeared on the episode, sharing his side of the story and "finding peace through pain." Although Jada confirmed that she had an affair with Alsina, the pair clarified that they were temporarily separated when it happened and denied that Will had ever given the singer his blessing.

The couple also revealed that they reunited as soon as Alsina was out of the picture. "I would definitely say that we tried everything we could to get away from each other, only to realize that that wasn't possible," Jada observed, per Variety

The Red Table Talk clip, which has been viewed more than 39 million times, quickly went viral. Jada's repeated use of the word "entanglement," rather than "affair," became an online target for jokes, as did a picture that supposedly showed Will in tears (although Will later denied he had been crying during the interview.)

She clashed with Snoop Dogg

In the wake of Kobe Bryant's death in 2020, Jada Pinkett Smith wasn't afraid to call out Snoop Dogg over his comments toward Gayle King and start a difficult conversation about misogyny.

After a TV interview where King mentioned a woman who had accused Bryant of sexual assault, Snoop posted an Instagram video insulting King's appearance and telling her: "Back off b***h, before we come get you." As a result of that outburst, Jada brought the rapper on Red Table Talk to try and clear the air. "When you first came out and you said what you said, you know in regards to Gayle, my heart dropped," the actor told her old friend, explaining that she felt hurt on behalf of all women. "I felt like not only were you talking to Gayle, but you were talking to me. I was like, 'Oh no, Snoop has now taken his power flow away from me, away from Willow, away from my mother.' Right?"

Snoop ended up apologizing to King and resolving the feud. "When you're wrong, you gotta fix it," he declared on Instagram, admitting that he addressed her in "a derogatory manner based off of emotions" and that he shouldn't have spoken so soon. "I was raised way better than that, so I would like to apologize to you publicly for the language that I used and calling you out of your name and just being disrespectful," the rapper concluded.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars over her

Although the 94th Academy Awards should have been memorable for Will Smith due to his Best Actor win for "King Richard," he made Oscars history for a decidedly different reason. 

Instead of talking about his talent, Will sparked waves of controversy when he slapped Chris Rock on stage over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. As the BBC reported, the comedian compared Jada to GI Jane due to her shaved head, prompting an eye roll from the actor. Will then walked up on stage and hit Rock in the face, before shouting at him to keep Jada's name "out of his mouth."

Jada has been open about her struggles with alopecia. "At this point, I can only laugh," she told her followers in one Instagram video from early 2022, showing a new area of hair loss and writing that "me and this alopecia are going to be friends." So Rock's joke might have hit too close to home, especially as he had already taken shots at the actor during the 2016 Oscars. Although Jada didn't initially comment on her husband's unexpected outburst, she later called for harmony on her social media after Will apologized. "This is a season for healing and I'm here for it," the actor wrote on her Instagram.