The couple began their relationship under controversial circumstances as Smith was reportedly still married at the time, and the rest of their union has been plagued with rumours of breakups, makeups, an open marriage – and, two months ago, the announcement by Pinkett Smith of their secret separation seven years ago.
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”We’re staying together forever,” Pinkett Smith told Barrymore on the promotional trail for her memoir Worthy of her relationship with Smith.
“I tried. We tried,” Pinkett Smith added, seemingly in reference to the seven years they spent separated.
In October 2023, while promoting Worthy, Pinkett Smith revealed she and Smith had been secretly separated since 2016.
Days later, she also said that despite their split, they would never get divorced.
Now, it seems like they’re back together.
So what actually is going on between Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith? Here’s what we know about their relationship.
1994: Smith and Pinkett Smith meet when she auditions to play his onscreen girlfriend on his sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the part and actress Nia Long is cast as Beulah ‘Lisa’ Wilkes on the show.
“The first time I met you was at the Fresh Prince audition. I think I was 19, and [producers] told me I was too short,” Pinkett Smith would later recall on an episode of her Facebook series, Red Table Talk.
Smith later reveals he became attracted to Pinkett Smith soon after first meeting when seeing her on the television series, A Different World.
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While at the time, he is still married to actress and producer Sheree Zampino – the mother of his eldest child, Trey Smith, now 31 – Smith is adamant Pinkett Smith is the one for him.
It is in a restaurant bathroom stall while on a dinner date with Zampino that he knew he needed to end his marriage.
“I had a realisation I wasn’t with the person I was supposed to be with,” he later recalls in 2018 on Red Table Talk.
“I was sitting in a stall and I was crying and laughing uncontrollably, and I knew [Pinkett Smith] was the woman I was supposed to be with.”
1995: With Pinkett Smith’s feelings for the actor just as strong, the pair start dating. She has since expressed her regret over beginning a relationship with Smith while he was still married to Zampino.
The exes’ three-year marriage officially ends later that year when they finalise their divorce.
“Because I did not understand marriage, I did not understand divorce,” Pinkett Smith later admits in 2018 on the premiere episode of Red Table Talk, in which Zampino was her first-ever guest. “I probably should have fell back.”
1997: The actor proposes to Pinkett Smith in November 1997 and they secretly marry one month later on New Year’s Eve in her native Baltimore, Maryland.
The bride wears a champagne-coloured velvet gown designed by Badgley Mischka.
Pinkett Smith – who at the time is pregnant with the couple’s first child – later reveals she never wanted to get married.
“I was under so much pressure being a young actress and pregnant, and I didn’t know what to do,” she reveals years later on her Facebook series.
“I was so upset that I had to have a wedding. I was so pissed.”
1998: In July that year, Smith and Pinkett Smith welcome their first child together, son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, now 25.
“After my first trimester … being pregnant with you were some of the happiest moments of my life,” Pinkett Smith wrote in a Facebook video for Jaden Smith’s 21st birthday.
“You were a tangible joy. When you were born, you became my first experience of tangible love. You have taught me so much about love and kindness. You have been a powerful teacher in my life,” she continued.
“I feel so blessed you chose me to be your mum. Happy 21st to one of my dearest treasures. I love you Jaden.”
2000: Pinkett Smith and Smith welcome their second child, Willow Camille Reign Smith.
The proud dad says it is his only relationship with a female that he has maintained.
“Willow’s the only female relationship I’ve ever had that I didn’t mess up,” he shares one decade later on Red Table Talk.
“I’m sure there are aspects from Willow’s point of view [where] she would say, ‘No, you messed some stuff up, dad,’ but in my mind, I did right by her.”
2013: Although Smith and Pinkett Smith have never starred in a movie together, they continue to work on their careers over the years.
But in 2013, it’s their relationship that’s placed under scrutiny when it is rumoured the Hollywood couple have an open marriage.
“I think that people get that idea because Will and I are very relaxed with one another,” Pinkett Smith tells HuffPost a the time.
“But I’ve always told Will: ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK.’ Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man.
“I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
The couple also deny persistent rumours they are swingers.
2015: Whispers of a split grow louder and a fed-up Smith takes to Facebook to put them to bed.
He writes on the social media platform: “Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually respond to foolishness (Because it’s contagious). But, so many people have extended me their ‘deepest condolences’ that I figured – ‘What the hell… I can be foolish, too!'”
“So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness… Jada and I are… NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The couple would go on to reveal in 2020 they did actually split briefly in 2015, during which Pinkett Smith, now 52, entered a brief “entanglement” with singer August Alsina, now 31.
While to the public in 2015, Smith and Pinkett Smith are still married, behind the scenes they work on their issues and decide to reconcile.
“Because I had been divorced before, I wasn’t getting divorced again. Divorce wasn’t an option,” Smith later explains of the time surrounding the Alsina “entanglement”.
“I was devastated even worse than a divorce. We broke up within our marriage and got back together again. We had to rebuild with new rules and something way, completely different.”
2018: Smith again raises eyebrows as to their marital status when he tells Tidal’s Rap Radar podcast that he and Pinkett Smith do not say they are “married anymore”.
“We don’t even say we’re married anymore,” he confirms. “We refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realise you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life.”
“There’s no deal breakers,” he continues. “There’s nothing she could do – ever. Nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support till death and it feels so good to get to that space.”
2020: Alsina claims in YouTube interview he had an affair with Pinkett Smith and Smith gave his blessing.
“I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation … He gave me his blessing,” Alsina tells The Breakfast Club host Angela Yee.
“And I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really, deeply loved and have a ton of love for her.
“I devoted myself to it. I gave my full self to it. So much so that I can die right now, and be OK with knowing that I fully gave myself to somebody … And some people never get that in this lifetime.”
The pair first met at her kids Jaden and Willow’s joint gig at the Wireless Festival in London that year and became fast friends.
After Alsina’s big reveal, Pinkett Smith confirms the relationship did happen, although she denies claims Smith knew of the romance.
“About four years ago, [I] started a friendship with August. And we actually became really, really good friends. And it all started with him just needing some help,” she explains in an honest one-on-one with Smith on Red Table Talk.
“I got into an entanglement with August. I was in a lot of pain, and I was very broken. In the process of that relationship, I definitely realised that you can’t find happiness outside of yourself.”
On the same Red Table Talk episode, Smith says their marriage felt over at that point.
“I was done with your ass. I was done with you,” he says. “Marriages have that though. We decided that we were going to separate for a period of time and you go figure out how to make yourself happy and I’ll try to figure out how to make myself happy. I really felt like we could be over.”
But at the conclusion of their discussion, Pinkett Smith and Smith say their bond is unbreakable.
“We ride together. We die together. Bad marriage for life,” they said, referencing a quote from Smith’s Bad Boys film series.
2021: Smith spills more details on his marriage to Pinkett Smith in a candid interview with GQ, in which he seemingly confirmed the couple had an open marriage.
“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way,” he tells the magazine. “And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”
Around the same time of the GQ interview, Pinkett Smith admits on her Facebook series that it’s difficult to maintain a good sex life after 24 years of marriage so communication is vital.
“It’s hard,” she says while discussing sex on the show. “The thing Will and I talk about a lot is the journey. We started in this at a very young age, 22 years old… I think you expect your partner to know [what you need], especially when it comes to sex. It’s like, ‘Well, if you love me, you should know. If you love me, you should read my mind.’ That’s a huge pitfall.”
Smith begins promoting his upcoming memoir, Will, in November. In early excerpts of the book, Smith opens up about the “spectacular” sex they had when they first started dating.
“We drank every day, we had sex multiple times every day for four straight months,” he says while reading a passage on Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation.
“I started to wonder if this was a competition. Either way, as far as I was concerned, there were only two possibilities: I was going to satisfy this woman sexually or I was going to die trying.”
March 2022: The slap that was heard around the world.
Smith notably slaps comedian Chris Rock on-stage at the 2022 Oscars after Rock makes a joke about Pinkett Smith’s bald head.
“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya,” Rock says, in reference to 1997’s G.I. Jane, which saw a Demi Moore, with a shaved head, play a soldier entering the armed forces.
Pinkett Smith, who has been open about her journey with the autoimmune disease alopecia and began shaving her head in 2021 when “problem” hairless spots became harder to hide, is shown rolling her eyes at Rock’s joke, while Smith, at first, laughs.
But then Smith storms the stage, slaps Rock, and returns to his seat.
As everyone tries to figure out if the move is scripted, Rock deadpans: “Will Smith just slapped the s–t out of me.”
Smith, meanwhile, shouts from his seat: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
He would go on to win Best Actor on the night, and be banned from the Academy for 10 years. Both Smith and Rock have issued various statements and apologies on the incident since.
Pinkett Smith would address The Slap in an episode of Red Table Talk in June 2022.
October 2023: Pinkett Smith reveals she and Smith had been secretly separated since 2016.
She says they have no plans to legally divorce though they have been living in separate houses.
Her comments were made to Hoda Kotb while on the promotional trail for her memoir, Worthy.
November 2023: Pinkett Smith hints she and Smith are actually back together.
Once again on the promotional trail for Worthy, this time she tells Drew Barrymore that she and Smith “tried” being separated, but they’re “together forever”.