Jada Pinkett Smith is intense in a ballroom chair in New York's Waldorf Astoria. At a petite, barely there frame, the 40 year-old actress, singer, producer, wife, mother still manages to somehow fill a room with so much energy—I mean a magnetic energy, the kind of magnetism that draws you into her gaunt, still flawless face, taking in whatever she's saying. Okay, it was my first interview with the super star force, who I have been girl-crushing non-stop since she was the goddess braids, combat boot-wearing Lena on "A Different World". Almost instantly, you can imagine how it feels to be Willow or Jaden—Smith oozes an intrinsic maternal, preachy-but cool kind of conversation. There's a lesson in nearly all of her words. She's about her very own brand of feminism, like her business. It's no wonder she's been bold enough to take on projects like Madagascar, the billion-dollar animated franchise so funny, you wonder if it's really for small children. In the film's third installment, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Smith returns as Gloria the hippo— a character she nails despite the immense irony. The plus-size dancing and sassy hippo is a whole lot of woman—but where Smith lacks in hips, she makes up in vocals. Smith stars along side Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Frances McDormand, and Cedric The Entertainer, and the hilarious comedy hits theaters this Friday, June 8.
We chatted pretty much everything except from those creepy divorce rumors (Yes this is frightening to me because what comes of Black love if our most coveted couple calls it quits? Yes I'm that sappy). So we focused on the challenges of animation acting, her own personal growth, and her wildly buzzed "Red Table Talks" series she launched on Mother's Day—where we shockingly watched the usually confident and pretty brave-for-a-kid Willow have her very first public display of unscripted vulnerability reminding us that yes, she's actually a kid as she broke down in very real tears. The Hollywood beauty was also super open on her thoughts about reality TV. Let's just say you won't find Jada signing anyone's petition to shut down "Basketball Wives".
EBONY: So tell us about channeling your inner animal.
Jada Pinkett Smith: Well you know the inner hippo in me, you know, this is our third installment so it’s like putting on an old jacket, shirt, or a pair of old slippers that you are just very familiar with. So it’s not difficult at all.
EBONY: Is it easier being in a studio talking to a microphone, than it is being on set as an actress acting in a regular film?
JPS: You know it’s not actually. It’s difficult when it’s just you and a microphone because you are so used to interacting with other actors, you know? And yes, it can be challenging because you are there alone all of the time, and so you don’t know…you know the directors tell you, “Oh, you know, Chris did this.” Or, “David did this, and we would love for you to try and do that.” But you really don’t have a reality on what it is. You know.
EBONY: Have you seen the finishing product yet?
EBONY: What are you favorite parts from the film?
JPS: I love the bear, Sophie the bear and Sacha Baron. That is probably the most adorable aspect of the story line to me. I just I love it. I don’t get enough of it. That bear is hilarious.
EBONY: What did your family think of the film?
JPS: They haven’t seen it yet. Yeah. They won’t see it until the premiere. Yeah.
EBONY: So are there obligations to see each other films?
JPS: I mean we try, definitely. You know it’s like when you create that’s just being part of a creative group like we are, you know, you have to check out each other’s products.
EBONY: So you don’t have where you worry that the kids might want to see his film versus your film more or anything like that?
JPS: Oh no. No you don’t have any of that. Oh no. No you don’t have any of that. Yeah.
EBONY: You recently released "Red Table Talks" on Mother’s Day, and that was just so empowering.
JPS: Thank you.
EBONY: And a lot of what you do is empowering women. Can you speak about why that was so important for you, and when the next installment is going to happen?
JPS: Yeah. It’s funny because, you know, it was really something that I did really organically that I wanted to just offer as a gift to women and especially mothers and for Mother’s Day. Because I get asked a lot about how do I communicate with my daughter, and my relationship with my mother being that we’ve had very humble beginnings as far as our relationship and what we have overcome. And Red Table Talks is now in discussions