Jada, Adrienne and Willow are back!
Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk has become one of the most buzz-worthy shows on the net, as Jada Pinkett Smith, mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones and daughter, Willow Smith, gather to discuss the good, bad and the ugly during candid conversations that hit home with thousands of loyal followers every week.
After taking on such topics as addiction, sexuality and even self-harm, the open and honest family will tackle divorce, mental health and Will & Jada’s personal relationship in the weeks to come. Here, Pinkett Smith and Banfield-Jones chat with EBONY about part two of Season One, connecting with fans, #MeToo and the generational blessing of happiness.
What or who do both of you credit with your ability to open up and speak so freely on these deeply personal issues with each other and with the world? This kind of vulnerability is very rare, especially within families of color.
Adrienne Banfield-Jones: I think Jada really brought it out of me and helped me become more comfortable. It took me a minute because I’ve never been one who was comfortable in my own skin. She made me realize that the world is going to judge you anyway. You just have to be comfortable with who you are as a person. That has been a process for me, but The Red Table is helping, it’s a part of my growth. I’m still a work in progress.
Jada Pinkett Smith: As we all are! For me, it’s a part of the healing process. Over these last seven years, I’ve been going through a major transformation. A lot of my truths, I’ve been able to sit and marinate in them. I’ve had some really powerful experiences with some people that I reached out to who were courageous enough to share their testimony, and it changed my life. It changed the trajectory of my life.
We have to have these real conversations because no one is telling us, “you’re not alone. You’re not in this struggle by yourself.” So, I just told myself, “Jada, get over it. You can touch someone with your story so that they don’t have to go through that particular struggle.”
Was there a particular topic from the first half of Season One that you found difficulty discussing?
JPS: No, not for me.
ABJ: It was difficult for me to talk about my addiction. Granted, it was a long time ago and it’s not like it was a secret, but to bring it back up and have to relive all of that was tough. Everybody can’t receive everything, but at the end of the day, I felt it was important to speak to people going through it, especially with today’s opioid addiction problem. It was an opportunity for me to offer some help and let people know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
JPS: You’re also helping break the stereotype of what addiction looks like, which is so important.
Jada, what’s something you’ve taken or learned from your mother that you were sure to instill in Willow as she grew up?
JPS: One of the lessons I took from my mom was to always reach for more happiness! Her taking the steps in her life to get there, those are really hard steps! I want to pass that to Willow, for Willow to see my mother live a happy life, to see me do it, and to know that it won’t look the same for all of us.
ABJ: She’s creating her own happiness in a way that works for her. She even has her boundaries with us!
JPS: Sure does! We’ll be doing something or going somewhere, and she’s like, “I’m good, see ya’ll when you get back! Love ya!” You got to respect it!
Being that your kids are older, how did you approach discussing the #MeToo movement and consent with Willow and Jaden?
JPS: That conversation started at a very early age, that nobody should touch you against your will. I’ve had this conversation with Willow and Jaden as well, to not be in spaces where you don’t feel safe. Even to this day, I tell Willow, “If he wants to meet you, he can come here. You’re not going to his house. I don’t know who’s there.”
It’s about instilling a certain rhythm in a young woman’s mind, like, “yes, we can meet, but in a public place.” There are certain safeguards we need to implement as women. Now, I realize that can’t always be the answer, because as women, we can get put into some sticky situations with men that we thought we knew, too! I pray that I’ve given her that inner strength to understand she has the right to say “no,” and to fight for her power and her body.
Even with Jaden, because we don’t talk about this as much, but little boys get taken advantage of, too. A lot of men I know, as adults, who have been molested and don’t want to talk about it. We haven’t yet, but I want to do a show about it, because I know a lot of men who were molested or raped who don’t have an outlet to get that pain and shame out. It’s really deep, and there’s a lot of them.
Can you recall a moment where a fan approached you and shared their story because they were so touched by the show?
JPS: I get women approaching me out of nowhere sometimes, asking for hugs with tears in their eyes. It’s beautiful when you can touch people that way, but it’s actually you touching yourself. I’m just a vessel, you’re getting in touch with yourself through me. It’s not me, it’s not Gammy and it’s not Willow. It’s you learning and healing yourself, we just want to offer our experiences as a way of making sure people know they aren’t alone.
Check Mr. and Mrs. Smith discuss their marriage in the first new episode of the season below.