Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith have been a Hollywood power couple for more than two decades, but their union has often hit the spotlight for the wrong reasons. See what their early days looked like.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith met on the set of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," in the early 90s. Jada had auditioned to play Will's girlfriend but was rejected because she was considered too short. Instead, the role went to Nia Long.
Will and Jada's story includes several near-miss moments, and the couple never had the perfect introduction they would have hoped for. Will recalled going to "A Different World" with his co-star Alphonso Riberio to search for Jada but got distracted by Sheree Fletcher Zampino.
[Left] Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith on their wedding day; [Right] Actor Will Smith | Source: Getty Images instagram.com/willsmith
Will dated and proposed to Zampino. The couple got married and welcomed their son, Trey. However, Will's old feelings for Jada resurfaced after he met her at a club in LA and realized he wanted to be with her.
The young actor did not believe in divorce and could not act on his feelings for Jada at the time. During an appearance on Jada's "Red Table Talk," Will recalled going to the bathroom to weep during a dinner date with Zampino.
Will Smith and Sheree Zampino at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards at in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
He said, "I had a realization I wasn't with the person I was supposed to be with." Jada then clarified that they never had an affair while Will was married to Zampino. However, their romance began after Will's divorce.
"Cool. You're seeing me now."
JADA PINKETT SMITH WAS CRYING, WALKING DOWN THE AISLE AT HER "HORRIBLE WEDDING"
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith at the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards | Source: Getty Images
Two years into their relationship, Jada realized she was pregnant and wanted her and Will to start a family without the traditional marriage and festivities. But her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, strongly opposed her request.
Jada's mom said she had looked forward to being at her daughter's wedding and was against the young couple starting a family without walking down the aisle. Will, like Banfield-Jones, was in favor of a traditional wedding.
The "Bad Boys" actor loved the idea of being married and believed marriage made him a better man. But, for Jada, the idea of a "wife" was something she found uncomfortable. She, however, gave in to Will's request for a wedding but later confessed that it was "horrible."
Will and Jada's 1997 wedding would have been glamorous except for the visible discomfort on the pregnant Jada's face. Attendees could see tears streaming down Jada's face as she walked down the aisle. The mom of two was suffering from the discomfort of early pregnancy.
That would not be the only compromise Jada would have to make for Will. Years after their marriage, the couple had an argument about moving into a larger home. Will had just purchased a massive 256-acre compound, which Jada was against.
Will succeeded in persuading the actress to move into their new home. He wrote about it, "Nothing good comes from spending your hard-earned money on a 'family home' that your wife doesn't want. You are putting a down payment on discord, and for years you will be paying off a mortgage of misery. Or, worse."
WILL AND JADA COULD NO LONGER PRETEND THEY WERE HAPPY IN THEIR MARRIAGE
Will Smith and actress Jada Pinkett attend the "Metro" Hollywood Premiere on January 15, 1997 at Mann's Chinese Theatre | Source: Getty Images
Will and Jada's marriage has been far from perfect. The couple has clashed several times, and their frequent fights made them realize they were not happy in their marriage.
Will recalled an incident in which Jada cursed at him during a party while his son, Trey, was sitting on his lap. Will angrily hit Jada with a newspaper, explaining that he could not be with someone who cursed or used violence to express their emotions.
Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, and Trey Smith at the VH1 "Dear Mama" taping on May 3, 2016 | Source: Getty Images
The "Men In Black" actor witnessed his father abuse his mother and was afraid such a scene would play out in his home. So, Will and Jada decided to learn to communicate their emotions respectfully.
The pair decided never to talk when angry. Will said they also took some classes on communication, which helped improve their marriage, albeit temporarily. The duo had many mountains to cross before finding perfect harmony.
Trey, Jaden, Jada, Willow, and Will at the Environmental Media Association 26th Annual EMA Awards on October 22, 2016 | Source: Getty Images
Jada felt she always had to give in to Will's idea of a relationship and constantly despised hers. The couple had a massive disagreement in a hotel room in front of their daughter, which made them realize it was a "make it or break it" situation.
Will had just traced Jada's ancestry during the slave trade and found the family who owned her ancestors, but this gesture was not enough to impress his wife.
Will recalled them shouting and yelling at the top of their voices in disagreement. Their 10-year-old daughter, Willow, who shared the hotel suite with them, came out crying with her hands over her ears. Will wrote about the incident,
"Our marriage wasn't working. We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly, something had to change."
The moment proved helpful in steering Will and Jada to a path of mutual understanding. They became open to saving their marriage.
WILL GAVE A BLESSING FOR THE OTHER MAN TO DATE HIS WIFE
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith arrives at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures 'Magic Mike XXL' at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 25, 2015 | Source: Gettymages
Will and Jada made headlines in 2020 following the explosive revelations they made about their marriage on Jada's "Red Table Talk," where they clarified rumors of infidelity. Jada was spotted on a red carpet with a man, but her reps made light of the situation.
Jada was rumored to have dated singer August Alsina, and during the episode of the show, she held nothing back about their brief history. However, Will confirmed that they were separated when Jada's fling with August happened.
He said, "We decided that we were going to separate for a while and you go figure out how to make yourself happy, and I'll figure out how to make myself happy." Will further described that period by saying, "I was done with you."
Jada added that afterward, she got into an "entanglement" with August, who had earlier claimed that he had received Will's blessing to date Jada, but "The Matrix Revolutions" actress refuted such claims.
According to the mom of two, no one was in the position to give their blessing on who she dates. She said, "One thing I want to clean up…about you giving 'permission,' which is...the only person that can give permission in that circumstance is myself."
Jada confessed that while away from Will, she realized their true connection, and the more they reconnected, the more her relationship with August faded into thin air.
August Alsina and Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2017 BET Awards at Staples Center on June 25, 2017 | Source: Getty Images
WILL AND JADA PINKETT SMITH GAVE FREEDOM TO EACH OTHER
Following the incident with August, Jada and Will decided to save their union by opting for an open marriage. The couple gave each other the freedom and support to be with other people and make themselves happy.
Jada had never believed in conventional marriages. She had people in her family who practiced polygamy and open marriages, and Will was open to her ideology in a bid to save their marriage.
Jada later released a Facebook post clarifying what they meant by an open relationship. The 50-year-old actress claimed they had a grown relationship rather than an open one. She wrote,
"Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship...this means we have a GROWN one."
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive for Paramount Pictures' Premiere Of "Gemini Man" held at TCL Chinese Theatre on October 6, 2019 | Source: Getty Images
THE SMITHS ARE STRONGER THAN EVER TOGETHER
Will and Jada are not like most celebrities who prefer trashing their dirty laundries in private. The couple has bared it all to the media, and it is a deliberate attempt to stop rumors from flying about.
Will and Jada want to be in control of their narrative. The couple is glad that they put everything out there and have nothing to fear about being found out or exposed.
Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith arrives on the red carpet outside the Dolby Theater for the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images
A source told US Weekly, "Will and Jada, at the end of the day, are like a normal couple who just happen to be glorified because they're famous. They have fought. They have reconciled. At the end of the day, they do love each other."
The source further added that Will and Jada's bond hasn't been affected by the dark side of their marriage. Instead, the couple is closer than ever and are committed to their children.