Who is Jada Koren Pinkett?

Who is Jada Koren Pinkett? The entertainment world knows Jada Pinkett-Smith as an American actress, producer, director, author, singer-songwriter and businesswoman. She began her career in 1990, when she made a guest appearance in the short-lived sitcom True Colors. She starred in A Different World, produced by Bill Cosby, and she featured opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996). She starred in dramatic films such as Menace II Society (1993) and Set It Off (1996). She has appeared in more than 20 films in a variety of television genres, including Scream 2, Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Pinkett Smith launched her music career in 2005, when she helped create the Heavy metal/rock band Wicked Wisdom, for which she is a singer and songwriter. Additionally, Smith not only created a production company and her own makeover line; she's also the author of an adult book, published in 2000.
In 1997, she married rapper and actor Will Smith; they have two children, Jaden and Willow. Pinkett Smith is the stepmother to Smith's son from a previous marriage, Willard "Trey" Smith III. Together, the couple have founded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, a charity organization which focuses on urban inner city youth and family support. The foundation has worked with non-profit organizations, such as YouthBuild and the Lupus Foundation of America.

 Family and early life

Jada Pinkett Smith was born September 18, 1971 in Baltimore, Maryland, and named after her mother's favorite soap opera actress, Jada Rowland.[2] Pinkett-Smith is of African-American, Portuguese-Jewish, West Indian, and Creole ancestry.[3] Her parents are Adrienne Banfield-Jones, the head nurse of an inner-city clinic in Baltimore; and Robsol Pinkett, Jr., who ran a construction company. Banfield-Jones became pregnant in high school. The couple married but divorced after several months.[4] Banfield-Jones raised Pinkett with the help of her mother, Marion Martin Banfield, who was employed as a social worker.[5] Banfield noticed her granddaughter's passion for the performing arts and enrolled her in piano, tap dance, and ballet lessons.[6] She has a younger half-brother, actor/writer Caleeb Pinkett.
Pinkett Smith has remained close to her mother and said, "A mother and daughter's relationship is usually the most honest, and we are so close." She participated as the maid of honor in Banfield-Jones' 1998 wedding to telecommunications executive Paul Jones.[8] Pinkett-Smith has shown great admiration for her grandmother, saying, "My grandmother was a doer who wanted to create a better community and add beauty to the world."[9]
Pinkett Smith majored in dance and theatre at the Baltimore School for the Arts, graduating in 1989.[10][11] She continued her education at the North Carolina School of the Arts, but dropped out after a year. She moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue an acting career.[5]

Acting career

Early work (1990–1995)

Rosie Perez.
Jada moved to Los Angeles and stayed with LaVern Whitt, former stunt woman, now producer and long time family/friend, who got her started in the industry. In Los Angeles, Pinkett Smith inquired about the choreographer position for the television series In Living Color, created by actor Keenan Ivory Wayans who she met through LaVern but the job was already taken by Rosie Perez. LaVern helped her find an acting agent and got her started in the industry by introducing Jada to many of her celebrity friends including Keenan. She began her acting career in 1990, when she starred in a television pilot for supernatural drama Moe's World. Although the pilot was never aired, she received guest roles in television shows such as True Colors (1990), Doogie Howser, M.D. (1991), and 21 Jump Street (1991). After auditioning for comedian Bill Cosby's NBC television sitcom A Different World in 1991, she earned the role of college freshman Lena James, a character based on Pinkett Smith's own style and personality.[4]
In 1994, Pinkett Smith finally acted with Wayans in the action and comedy film A Low Down Dirty Shame. "He busted my ass," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I had to read twice, no three times, for him!"[12] She described her character, Peaches, as "raw" with "major attitude",[12] and her acting garnered positive reviews. The New York Times noted, "Ms. Pinkett, whose performance is as sassy and sizzling as a Salt-n-Pepa recording, walks away with the movie."[13]

Breakthrough (1996–2000)

Following a role in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995), Pinkett Smith co-starred with actor and comedian Eddie Murphy in the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor. It became her biggest box office success, bringing in more than $25 million in its first weekend and opening in over 2,000 theaters.[14]
Set It Off (1996), a crime drama about four women who rob banks to escape from poverty, helped to establish Pinkett Smith as an actor of note. With Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise, her acting in the film prompted the San Francisco Chronicle to name her as "the one to watch".[15]
In 1997 Pinkett Smith featured in Scream 2 in a role similar to Drew Barrymore in the 1996 original. In the film Pinkett Smith plays Maureen Evans, a college student who attends the opening night of a new horror movie, at which she is brutally murdered in front of hundreds of cinemagoers. The role was an ironic one since her character discusses the horror genres mistreatment of African Americans and yet here was Pinkett Smith gaining the most famous and notorious role in the hit sequel (that of the "opening victim"). The film made over $100mil at the US box office.
In 2000, Pinkett Smith was cast in Spike Lee's film Bamboozled (2000), as Sloan Hopkins, a personal assistant to the main character portrayed by Damon Wayans. Although the film met with mediocre reviews, it won the Freedom of Expression Award by the National Board of Review.[16]

International success (2001–present)

Perhaps her best-known role to date is the part of human rebel Niobe in the films The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), sequels to 1999's The Matrix. She had met the series' directors, The Wachowski Brothers, before they had begun to film The Matrix and they formed a close bond. The character was eventually written, specifically, with Pinkett Smith in mind.[17] Directly after she filmed her scenes for Ali, Pinkett Smith flew to Australia to work on the Matrix sequels. The role brought her into the spotlight, as The Matrix already had a cult following of fans, and the sequels earned over $91 million and $48 million during opening weekends, respectively.[18][19]
In 2008, Pinkett Smith portrayed Alex Fisher, a lesbian author, in The Women. The film co-starred Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, and Debra Messing, and was directed by Emmy Award-winner Diane English. Pinkett Smith's directorial debut was The Human Contract; she also wrote and acted in the movie. Starring Paz Vega and Idris Elba, it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2008.[20] As of January 2009, she has been working on the TNT medical drama Hawthorne, in which she is executive producer and a starring cast member.[21] The show has been greenlit for 10 episodes.[22]

Musical career

Under the stage name Jada Koren, Pinkett Smith formed the metal band Wicked Wisdom in 2002.[23] The band consists of Pinkett Smith performing lead vocals, Pocket Honore (guitar, vocals), Cameron "Wirm" Graves (guitar, keyboard, vocals), and Rio (bass, vocals). The band is managed by James Lassiter and Miguel Melendez of Overbrook Entertainment, a company co-founded by Pinkett Smith's husband Will Smith.[24]

The band's self-titled debut album was released on February 21, 2006, by Pinkett Smith's production company 100% Women. Will Smith served as the project's executive producer.[25] The album made it to Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, and peaked at number 44 during the week of March 11, 2006.[26] Allmusic reviewer Alex Henderson said of the album, "[Pinkett Smith] shows herself to be an expressive, commanding singer" and that "[Wicked Wisdom] shows considerable promise".[27] The band promoted the album in 2006, touring with heavy metal band Sevendust.[28]

The Onyx Hotel Tour

Wicked Wisdom landed a slot on Britney Spears' Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004, one of the year's highest-profile tours. The band opened for Spears for eight dates in April and May 2004, during the European leg of the tour.[29]

Ozzfest 2005

In 2005, Sharon Osbourne went to see Wicked Wisdom perform at a small night club in Los Angeles, California. She said, "I was blown away. When you see and hear Jada with her band it's apparent that she has nothing but love and respect for this genre of music."[24] In May 2005 organizers announced Wicked Wisdom would perform on the second stage of 2005's Ozzfest.[30] Fans of the festival were outraged, claiming the band did not have the credibility to perform at the music festival. A petition was created at PetitionOnline, garnering 501 signatures. Aware of the questions about the band's addition to Ozzfest, Pinkett Smith said, "I'm not here asking for any favors. You've got to show and prove. And not every audience is going to go for it."[31] Wicked Wisdom's guitarist Pocket Honore said while early dates of the tour were rocky, "once word got out that we weren't a joke, people started coming out and by the sixth or seventh gig we were on fire."[23] Pinkett Smith agreed, saying, "After seven dates within the Ozzfest tour, the whole attitude of it started to turn around once the word of mouth started getting out."[28]

Personal life

Pinkett Smith met Will Smith in 1990 on the set of Smith's television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when she auditioned for the role of his character's girlfriend, Lisa Wilkes. She was considered too short and the role went to actress Nia Long. Pinkett and Smith became friends, however, and began dating in 1995. On December 31, 1997, about 100 guests attended their wedding at the Cloisters, near her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.[32] Regarding her marriage, Pinkett Smith said that they are "private people"[33] and told one interviewer, "I will throw my career away before I let it break up our marriage. I made it clear to Will. I'd throw it away completely."[34]
Pinkett Smith and Smith have two children, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith[32] (born July 8, 1998 in Malibu, California),[35] Willow Camille Reign Smith[32] (born October 31, 2000 in Los Angeles, California),[5] .
Smith commented in 2008 on their parenting skills: "We're not strict but we definitely believe it's a very important component for rearing children. It creates safety for them. They understand that they need guidance."[36] Trey attends Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, California,[37] while Jaden and Willow are attending public school once again.[9] The family resides in a 27,000 square foot (2,500 m2) home, on 100 acres (40 ha), in Malibu.[7]
Pinkett was a close friend to the late West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, until his death in 1996.

Business ventures

After opening her music company 100% Womon Productions,[21] Pinkett Smith created her own fashion label, Maja, in 1994. The clothing line features women's T-shirts and dresses embellished with the slogan "Sister Power", sold primarily through small catalogs.[6]

All of Us
In 2003, Pinkett Smith and Smith helped to create the television series All of Us, which originally aired on UPN. The sitcom starred Duane Martin and LisaRaye and revolved around Martin's character juggling relationships with his ex-wife (LisaRaye), his 5-year-old son (Khamani Griffin), and his fiancée (Elise Neal). Pinkett Smith and Smith served as executive producers and guest-starred in several episodes; they said that the show is "very, very loosely" based on their life.[38]

Girls Hold Up This World,
Pinkett Smith published her first children's book, Girls Hold Up This World, in 2004. The cover of the book features Pinkett Smith and her daughter, Willow. Pinkett Smith told USA Today, "I wrote the book for Willow and for her friends and for all the little girls in the world who need affirmation about being female in this pretty much masculine world. I really tried to capture different sides of femininity. I want girls in the world to feel powerful, to know they have the power to change the world in any way they wish."[39]
In 2005, Pinkett Smith became one of many celebrities to invest a combined total of $10 million in Carol's Daughter, a line of beauty products created by Lisa Price.[40] She became a spokesperson for the beauty line, and said, "To be a part of another African American woman's dream was just priceless to me."[41] Both Pinkett Smith and Smith had been regular customers of Carol's Daughter before an investment plan had been made.[42]

Charity work and politics

Together with Smith, Pinkett Smith has created the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, a charity which focuses on youth in urban inner cities and family support. Their family helps to run the charity; her aunt, Karen Banfield Evans, is the foundation's executive director.[43] The charity was awarded the David Angell Humanitarian Award by The American Screenwriters Association (ASA) in 2006. John E. Johnson, executive director of the ASA, said, "Will and Jada exemplify the principles of the David Angell Humanitarian Award through their support of projects focusing on urban and inner city youth, family wellbeing, violence prevention and education. Their philosophy of leading a positive lifestyle and sincere interest in helping people everywhere is inspirational."[44] The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation has provided grants to non-profit organizations such as YouthBuild,[45] and Pinkett Smith has made significant personal donations to organizations such as Capital K-9s.[46]
While attending the Baltimore School for the Arts, Pinkett Smith met and became friends with classmate Tupac Shakur. They maintained a close friendship until his death in September 1996. In December 2006, she donated $1 million to the Baltimore School for the Arts in his memory. Donald Hicken, head of the school's theater department and Pinkett Smith's former teacher, said, "It means a lot when you're a teacher and your most famous alumnus comes back to give a donation. It really says a lot to the community that the school matters in people's lives."[43]
When Pinkett Smith's aunt, Karen Banfield Evans, was diagnosed with lupus,[47] the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, in association with the Lupus Foundation of America and Maybelline, held the first annual "Butterflies Over Hollywood" event on September 29, 2007 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. With a list of over 300 celebrities and guests, Pinkett Smith helped raise funds for LFA public and professional educational programs.[48] The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation was presented with an award in 2007 at the 4th Annual Lupus Foundation of America Awards.[49]
After meeting famed Scientologist Tom Cruise during the filming of Collateral in 2004, Pinkett Smith and Smith donated $20,000 to the Hollywood Education and Literacy Program (HELP), Scientology's basis for homeschooling.[50] The couple came under fire in 2008 when they decided to fund New Village Leadership Academy, a private elementary school located in Calabasas, California. The school employs teachers dedicated to the Scientology religion and features methodologies like study technology, created by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The couple, who are close friends with Cruise and wife Katie Holmes,[51] have denied claims that they are themselves Scientologists. Jaqueline Olivier, an administrator of New Village Leadership Academy, insists that the school has no religious affiliation.[52][53]
A supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Pinkett Smith said in an interview, "I love Michelle [and] would play her any day," when she was asked if she would play Michelle Obama in a biopic. She added, "I'm voting for Michelle. I'm always telling people I'm voting for Michelle to get into the White House and Obama is just going to follow her lead. She is smart and committed, and I just love her."[54] December 11, 2009, Pinkett Smith and her husband hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, when Barack Obama had won the prize.[55]


Year Title Role Other notes
1993 Menace II Society Ronnie
1994 The Inkwell Lauren Kelly
Jason's Lyric Lyric
A Low Down Dirty Shame Peaches
1995 Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight Jeryline
1996 The Nutty Professor Carla Purty
If These Walls Could Talk Patti Made for television movie
Set It Off Lita "Stony" Newsome
1997 Scream 2 Maureen Evans Cameo
1998 Woo Darlene
Blossoms and Veils Raven Short film
Return to Paradise M.J. Dc
1999 Princess Mononoke Toki Voice
2000 Bamboozled Sloan Hopkins
2001 Kingdom Come Charisse Slocumb
Ali Sonji
2003 The Matrix Reloaded Niobe
The Matrix Revolutions Niobe
2004 Collateral Annie Farrell
2005 Madagascar Gloria Voice
2007 Reign Over Me Janeane Johnson
2008 The Women Alex Fisher
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Gloria Voice
The Human Contract Rita Debuted at Cannes Film Festival in May 2008.[20]
Written and directed by Pinkett Smith.
2009 Merry Madagascar Gloria Voice


Year Title Role Other notes
1990 Moe's World Natalie Television movie
1990 True Colors Beverly 1 episode
1991 21 Jump Street Nicole 1 episode
1991 Doogie Howser, M.D Trish Andrews 1 episode
1991–1993 A Different World Lena James 36 episodes
2009–present Hawthorne Christina Hawthorne Lead Role

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
1997 Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Set It Off Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series If These Walls Could Talk Nominated
1998 Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite Supporting Actress – Horror Scream 2 Nominated
2001 Black Reel Award Theatrical – Best Actress Bamboozled Nominated
Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2002 Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Ali Nominated
2003 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress – Drama/Action Adventure The Matrix Reloaded Nominated
2004 Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture The Matrix Revolutions Nominated
2005 BET Comedy Award Best Performance in an Animated Theatrical Film Madagascar Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actress Collateral Nominated
Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2010 Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Hawthorne Won
2011 Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Hawthorne (Source: IMDb.com) Nominated


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