Date of Birth: September 18, 1971
Jada Pinkett Smith may only be five feet tall and weigh an even 100 pounds, but she's known for her tenaciousness and opinions about everything, from the portrayal of African American's onscreen to a woman's right to have it all.
Born in Baltimore, MD, Pinkett Smith's mother got pregnant with her while still in high school. Her parents married, but divorced after only a few months. The future actress studied music and dance while growing up and made her stage debut in August Wilson's, Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She also attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, but left before graduating in 1990, to try her luck in Hollywood.
Her first order of business when she arrived in LA was to get on the hit series In Living Color. She auditioned for the job of choreographer and while she didn't get the job (she had almost no experience with choreography), she did make a friend-for-life in series creator, Keenen Ivory Wayans. It was Wayans who was instrumental in helping her get her career started by hooking her up with an agent.
In 1991, Pinkett Smith auditioned for, and won a role, on the sitcom A Different World. The character she played, Lena James, was based on Jada's own personality and style. She was a regular cast member for two years before making the jump to the big screen. Her supporting role in the critically praised Menace II Society, gave her the exposure and good reviews she needed to start landing other roles in feature films. She followed up with roles in her friend Wayans' film Low Down Dirty Shame, a lead role in Jason's Lyric and playing Eddie Murphy's love interest in The Nutty Professor. Of her experience playing "the girlfriend", Pinkett Smith is outspoken. "It was hard bringing that woman to life, because she sure didn't jump off the page." Proving that she is an actress comfortable working in any genre, she then tackled the ensemble drama, Set It Off.
Ironically, it was an audition for a part in a television series that really changed her life. When she read for the part of Will Smith's girlfriend on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, she was considered too short to play the part (Smith is six-foot-two), but won the role in real life. Both actors felt an immediate friendship, but it was when they both went through painful breakups, and Smith ultimately divorced his wife, that the two connected as more than just friends. "It's nice to have someone who understands what it takes and what we go through as actors. You don't have to explain anything. We have an unspoken language," explains Pinkett Smith.
The high profile couple married in a very private ceremony in her hometown of Baltimore on December 31, 1997. The couple have a son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, and a daughter, Willow Camille Reign Smith. Both have made their way into the spotlight, Jaden appearing on screen and Willow in music. Pinkett Smith is also stepmother to Smith's son, Willard Trey, from his first marriage. In early 2012, rumors began spreading like wildfire that the couple had split and were in the midst of a divorce, however, they quickly took action by publicly denying the claims and instead insisting they were perfectly happy together.
The actress prides herself on her drive and ambition, which extends beyond acting. She has become a respected music video director, entrepreneur (she has a line of clothing called Maja) and has even penned a script entitled Love for Hire, with her husband. "I'm extremely ambitious. I don't know why people are afraid to say that. I won't sell my soul to the devil, but I do want success and I don't think that's bad."
Although her acting career isn't as fully-blown as her husband's, she continues to land roles. In 2012, she voiced the character of Gloria the hippo in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, a role she reprised from the series' previous films. Most recently, she starred in Magic Mike XXL (2015), Bad Moms (2016), and Girls Trip (2017).
FilmographyGirls Trip (2017)