The Oscars are always searching for a viral moment, and in 2022 they found it with a vengeance. When Will Smith mounted the stage to attack presenter Chris Rock, it was apparently motivated by Rock’s joke at his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense: “Jada, GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”
Rock’s joke referenced the 1997 war film in which Demi Moore, playing a navy lieutenant signing up for a reconnaissance, famously shaves her head into a close crop. In 2021 Pinkett Smith posted a video on Instagram in which she revealed her closely shaven style, writing “Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp … Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”
Pinkett Smith first talked publicly about her hair loss in 2018, which she suspected may be caused by stress. She said: “I’ve been getting a lot of questions about why I’ve been wearing this turban … Well, I’ve been having issues with hair loss. And it was terrifying when it first started.” Alopecia is commonly caused by an autoimmune condition that attacks the hair follicles.
However, Smith’s assault on Rock may have been presaged by the regular targeting of Smiths’ marriage by gossip columnists and awards-show hosts for some time for its “open” nature; as recently as two weeks ago, Bafta host Rebel Wilson said: “Personally I thought his [Will Smith’s] best performance in the past year has been being OK with all of his wife’s boyfriends.”
The pair married in 1997 after meeting on the set of the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 2020 Pinkett Smith acknowledged having had a relationship with musician August Alsina while she and Smith were separated. Smith added to the speculation in an interview in GQ in September 2021 in which he said: “Marriage for us can’t be a prison.”
Pinkett Smith, 50, grew up in Baltimore and made her movie breakthrough in the 1994 Keenen Ivory Wayans action comedy A Low Down Dirty Shame. She subsequently appeared in high-profile 90s films such as The Nutty Professor and Set It Off, before being cast in the 2003 Matrix sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as human rebel Niobe.
Pinkett Smith also moved into directing and production, as well as maintaining a string of business interests. She has also presented the chatshow Red Table Talk with her daughter Willow on Facebook Watch since 2018.