Jada Pinkett Smith's creative life.

Jada Pinkett Smith's creative life. / Matt Winkelmeyer/Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith is the kind of celebrity that makes headlines just by breathing. But looking at those headlines — mostly about her marriage to fellow actor, Will Smith — made host Brittany Luse think that most people have gotten Jada all wrong. A graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, Jada's best known for her acting, but she's also a producer, musician, and painter. After reading her memoir, Worthy, Brittany noticed the way Jada's artistic mind and process had been overlooked. So, she sat down with Jada to ask about it. They talked about what Jada's painting, what she got out of her time as a rock singer, why she looks at her relationship with Will as a masterpiece, and what she wants for her future.

Interview Highlights

These highlights have been edited for length and clarity.

On Jada's creative beginnings

BRITTANY LUSE: In your book, Worthy, you write about understanding yourself as an artist even from your early childhood. How did you know and see yourself clearly as an artist from such a young age?

JADA PINKETT SMITH: I think it had a lot to do with my grandmother; my grandmother was an artist. And my mother's an artist, she used to make sterling silver jewelry with turquoise. And so it was considered something that was really important to have artistic expression.

BRITTANY LUSE: Artistic expression as a principle of your home — that's huge.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: It is. It was such a norm. And I had a lot of friends who were visual artists. It just became part of my peer group get-down because we went to school for art. And so we would always get excited and want to share when we found something new and were vibing on it.

On how she feeds her creativity now

BRITTANY LUSE: What is your favorite creative outlet right now?

JADA PINKETT SMITH: Probably painting. I've been doing it for a while, and you don't really need anybody else's applause.

BRITTANY LUSE: Describe to me one of your most recent paintings.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: I love textures. So that's what I'm playing with right now. And I love the juxtaposition of going from, like, beauty to rough and the balance of both. I love juxtaposition.

What Jada learned from Wicked Wisdom

BRITTANY LUSE: You also had a full on nu-metal band, Wicked Wisdom. You said in your book you wanted to be the female Axl Rose. And to a certain extent, you were able to have a piece of that experience through Wicked Wisdom. You toured with Britney Spears in Europe, y'all performed at OzzFest. But at the same time, you dealt with serious backlash from metal fans in the metal community, which included death threats.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: It was really intense. I mean, at that particular time, I don't know of any other Black female in that particular genre except for [Skin from] Skunk Anansie... I had so many strikes against me. I was a woman, first of all, because even as a white woman, you have a hard time in that job. Then I'm a Black woman. And then I'm a woman from Hollywood, which is the antithesis of rock and roll. I was the representation of the machine itself. It's a lot of hate out there, for sure. No doubt about it. But there's also a lot of love and neutrality. And I'll never forget going to this place somewhere in Texas, where we were performing in this shack, and these kids, they didn't care. They were just happy we were there, seeing them having a good [expletive] time, with this Black band. They started moshing and that was it. What I love about the metal community is that you get to rage safely. We got to meet there in our rage and really have a good time with it.

BRITTANY LUSE: It's interesting that you put those together. Love and neutrality. Talk to me about what you mean when you say that.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: You get called names, people throwing bottles, people talking [expletive]. And the neutral was like, you could win them over. If you have neutrality, there's a space for love to grow. And then as we started going, there were people who were Wicked Wisdom fans that you would never expect. I learned a lot, and I don't judge a book by its cover anymore.

On calling her relationship with Will a "masterpiece"

BRITTANY LUSE: To kind of turn toward a different form of creativity, you were on Fresh Air last year to talk about your memoir with the incredible Tonya Mosley, and something you said really caught my ear; a few times you described your relationship to Will Smith as a "masterpiece of connection." And I thought it was such an interesting way to frame a relationship.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: I think everybody's life is their own work of art, and we have many pieces within it. I have a lot of ideas around marriage; I think it can be one of the most powerful dynamics, but if you're looking to stay in a cycle of romanticism, if you're looking to stay in the honeymoon stage, if you're looking to never be betrayed, if you're looking to never be hurt, if you're looking to not have to deal with your [expletive] or have to deal with someone else's [expletive], don't get married. Date.

BRITTANY LUSE: It's like you can't have a work of art — like when you were talking about your painting earlier — without the tension or the different colors, or the different textures. It's not going to come together.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: In one lifetime, we've lived about 20. And so it's quite a tapestry. If I had to say what kind of art piece our union is, I would say it is a tapestry. A rich tapestry.

BRITTANY LUSE: If you don't mind, we want to make sure that we have our facts straight, what's going on with you [and Will Smith]? Are you all back together? Still together?

JADA PINKETT SMITH: Yes, we are together, but we are together in the way that works for us. And that's really difficult to explain. We enjoy what we are. I tell Will all the time, 'I don't know if anybody will ever understand,' but it doesn't matter. We've tried to be apart several times. It's a God thing. It's above us.

On navigating Hollywood — and what's next for Jada

BRITTANY LUSE: I want to touch on a big conversation that has been happening lately all over Hollywood. In its most recent iteration, Taraji P. Henson kicked it off by talking about the pay disparity and just the general disrespect that even the most successful Black actresses in Hollywood have to deal with, and as a Black Hollywood veteran, does this ring true for you? And if so, how has that shaped your career?

JADA PINKETT SMITH: Absolutely. My heart broke for Taraji, and I was also happy [to see] how courageous she was to speak about it in the way that she did. One of the things with Taraji is that she is the breadwinner of her family. Her pressures would be different than mine. I have to put that out front, because if it's time to walk away, that's not always the solution. Because what people don't understand with us as Black entertainers, we carry a lot of people with us.

BRITTANY LUSE: It could be parents, siblings. You're paying for other people's lives and comfort.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: I find that that's unique. There are peers from other cultures that don't necessarily do it that way.

BRITTANY LUSE: As you explained, being married to another hugely successful Hollywood megastar, it might make things financially different for you as a Black actress than others. But there's still the matter of what Taraji was talking about with not having trailers and not having appropriate food — people being cheap with the things that you need to work every day. I mean, not being offered the same amount of money for the same work as maybe a white actress, those are still things that you've had to deal with, it seems like.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: Yes, people would literally say, "well, you don't need it. You're married to Will."


JADA PINKETT SMITH: Yeah, I've heard that several times.

BRITTANY LUSE: I notice that you don't act as much or as frequently as you used to. Is that part of why?

JADA PINKETT SMITH: That has a lot to do with it, and also wanting to get on the other side to help remedy that as a producer. It's not to say that I won't get in front of the camera, but what it takes for me to get in front of the camera, it's more. Just in regards to the kind of roles that I want to play or that interest me. And I'm thinking about directing.

BRITTANY LUSE: Yeah, we've been talking about everything from music to acting, producing, and painting. What are you working on now? It sounds like you're working on Jada.

JADA PINKETT SMITH: I'm always working on Jada.