Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Unconventional Marriage: Separated for Six Years Before Oscars Slap

Jada Pinkett Smith has revealed that she and her husband Will Smith have been living separate lives since 2016, six years before the infamous Oscars slap that rocked Hollywood. The actor and author made the disclosure in her new memoir, Worthy, and further discussed the status of the couple’s relationship in an interview with NBC News that aired on Wednesday.

Pinkett Smith said that she and Smith had been “exhausted with trying” to make their marriage work, and decided to live separately while still remaining legally married. She said they were “still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership.”

“We just got a deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us,” she told People magazine, in a separate interview.

Jada Pinkett Smith

The Oscars slap

The revelation comes as a surprise to many who have followed the couple’s long and tumultuous relationship, from their 1990s sitcom meet-cute to last year, when Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Academy Awards for making a joke about his wife’s shaved head. Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.

The incident occurred only moments before Smith accepted the best-actor award for King Richard, a biopic about the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. It resulted in his resignation from the Academy and a 10-year ban from attending the ceremony.

Pinkett Smith told People that she initially thought the slap was a “skit,” and even once she realized it wasn’t, remained “unclear on the reason why Will is so upset.”

She said she asked him if he was okay once they were alone, and added: “I’m going to be by his side, but also allow him to have to figure this out for himself.”

The entanglement

The couple’s marriage has been under intense scrutiny for years, with rumors of affairs and an open relationship swirling around them. In 2020, Pinkett Smith openly discussed an extramarital “entanglement” she had with singer August Alsina some years earlier, during a period of separation from her husband.

She said that she was “broken” at the time, and that Smith was aware of the situation. She also said that they had reached a point where they felt like they were “done” with each other.

Smith shared his side of the story in 2021, telling GQ that Pinkett Smith never believed in conventional marriage, and that they had “significant endless discussions” about what is relational perfection.

He said that for the large part of their relationship, monogamy was what they chose, but added: “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.”

The promise

Despite their separation and struggles, Pinkett Smith said that she made a promise to Smith that there will never be a reason for them to get a divorce. She said that they will work through whatever challenges they face, and that they have been doing some “really heavy-duty work” together.

She also revealed that Rock had once asked her out when he thought she and Smith had divorced, based on the reports that came out every summer. She said she turned him down and told him that there was no divorce in the offing.

“He was appalled. And he profusely apologized and that was that,” she said.

Pinkett Smith said that she hopes her memoir will inspire others to find their own worthiness, and that she is grateful for her husband’s support.

“He’s been my biggest cheerleader,” she said.

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