Jada Pinkett Smith is living the life most of us can only dream about. Born and raised by a single mother in Baltimore, this pint-sized dynamo is now one half of Hollywood’s most powerful couples, married to box office king Will Smith. She’s also the mother to their equally talented progeny, Jaden and Willow Smith.
Whether she’s playing a tough as nails nurse on “HawthoRNE” or channeling her inner wild child with her rock band, Wicked Wisdom, Jada is on a mission to empower herself as well as women around the globe. In Madagascar 3, Jada is back as Gloria, a hippo who carries herself with major “big girl” swag.
TheUrbanDaily sat down with Jada to find out the secret to her character’s confidence, her power partnership with Jay-Z, and what she really thinks of the negative images of black women being portrayed on reality shows like “Basketball Wives.”
TUD: One of the things that’s so admirable about Gloria is that she never apologizes for her weight or appearance. How can we use that to empower young girls to foster self-acceptance and positive body images?
Jada Pinkett Smith: That’s why I love Gloria. She’s a lot of girl, and she loves it. I try to give her that sass and that swag, you know? I’m dealing with this issue right now in this next music video that I’m doing regarding human trafficking, because that’s how most women and girls get caught up in the dream. That whole romantic idea that you are going to find the perfect person, that you are going to find the perfect situation. And a lot of times we give away our power in thinking that we have to look to someone else to have acceptance for who we are.
When did you come to understand your own power and beauty?
That’s something that you continue to work on because it’s a journey. You don’t get to a destination, because the more you start to grow and start to understand, you never stop. So you never get to a place like, “Ah, here it is.” You might get to a place like, “Okay, I’m finally glad to be here and be comfortable in my skin no matter what.” But the lessons don’t stop. I look at my daughter Willow, and she’s way ahead of the game now than I was at her age. I can only imagine who she’s going to be as a 40-year-old woman.
You have your own production company (Overbrook Entertainment) which allows you to actualize your ideas for film and television. How do you decide which projects to take on?
There’s certain things that I do creatively for commerce and there’s certain things that I don’t do for commerce, like my music. I just do that to be creative, so I separate that from business completely. So depending on what I’m trying to achieve really depends on how I will approach something from a business standpoint. So it’s like, “Okay if I want masses, how do I get masses of people to gravitate to this particular project?” So then you have to be strategic creatively and business-wise. Take “Fela” for instance. Jay-Z came to us about that particular project. So here you have three very recognizable African-Americans that are behind this successful Broadway show.
What was it like partnering with Jay-Z?
I have to say one of the things that I love about the working relationship that I have with Jay-Z is that Roc Nation and Overbrook Entertainment are probably the only two African-American entertainment groups that merge together all the time, on all kinds of different projects, and we always have such wonderful success.
I’m hoping that will set an example for African-Americans. We don’t always have to be in competition. There’s more power in numbers. And that goes for everybody, not just us. I’ve learned that over the years to create alliances on a business side to encourage growth and prosperity on the whole for everybody.
How do you manage to balance your career and motherhood?
To me, the two aren’t separate. I never stop being a mother and I never stop being an artist. Which is probably why my kids are so creative, because it’s not separated. When I’m with my kids I’m creating, and I’m still a mom. And when I’m creating I’m still a mom.
My mother was with me on set while shooting Matrix 2 because I was breastfeeding Willow. While I’m up there doing karate she’s sitting up in that chair with Willow in her lap and walking Willow around because I was nursing my child. None of my kids took a bottle.
A lot of people have been vocal about the negative images that are on reality TV like with “Basketball Wives” and “Housewives of Atlanta.” As an actress and a mother what do you think about these shows?
I think there’s room for everything. I think what we have to focus on is balancing. Everybody is trying to create, everybody is trying to make a living. Don’t be mad, don’t come down on them. Talk to the people that are actually putting these shows on and ask them to balance it out. It’s not that those shows shouldn’t exist. It’s not about coming down on people. It’s just about creating a balance. But also as a community, we have to be more responsible about what we are willing to watch. Now how about that? That’s what people don’t want to talk about.
Madagascar 3 opens in theaters nationwide Friday, June 8th