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Momspirations - Jada Pinkett Smith

The actress dishes on movies, mommyhood, Will--and doing it all her way.

By: Jada Pinkett Smith as told to Ilisa Cohen, Photo: Julian Broad/Contour by Getty Images

She got her big break on the TV sitcom A Different World and made headlines when she married movie star Will Smith. But no experience has been more enlightening for Jada Pinkett Smith than being a mom to her three kids.

I’ve learned so many things since I became a mother, but one of the most important is that there’s no formula for how to raise a child and have a career. Anyone can give you ideas about how to balance the two, but you have to do it your own way. And I do everything my way.

Being the best mom you can be isn’t about economic status, it’s about philosophy. I know I need help raising my kids. That’s why my mother travels with us when I’m on tour with my band, Wicked Wisdom, or if I’m on location for a movie. If she can’t make it, a friend comes along, or I bring Will. (But if Will’s with me, I still usually have my mother or Will’s mother there. I need someone who will make sure the kids aren’t eating chocolate cake!)

When I travel to third world countries—certain places in India or Africa—I meet mothers who know they can’t do it by themselves. You see groups of women raising their kids together in a village, helping one another relieve stress. But in this country, people tend to say, “Mind your business!” I think part of the problem is that most women think they don’t deserve time for themselves. We’re constantly told that as women we have to do, do, do. But we need each other for support. We need to develop relationships with people so that we have help. Everyone needs to figure out a way to create a support system—no one should do it alone.

One of the toughest parenting experiences I’ve had was becoming a stepmother to Will’s son, Trey, 16. As a kid, I’d been through such excruciating experiences with my parents’ divorce and having our family split up that I wanted to do anything in my power to make sure Trey didn’t go through that. I had to learn to get out of my ego. It wasn’t about me.

I had to understand that Will was going to have a relationship with Trey’s mom because they share a child. I had to support him in doing what was right even though it wasn’t easy. But greatness doesn’t come from ease. You want to do great things and you want it to be easy? These don’t go hand in hand. But the fact that now we enjoy holidays all together with Trey’s mom and her new husband makes the tough part worth it. Trey knows we all get along, and that creates stability for him.

When I got pregnant with Jaden, I was terrified because I knew my life was going to change. I took almost three years off from work. Once again, I had to leave my ego out of it. I had people saying I should really audition for this or that, but there was nothing more important than the baby I held in my arms. When I eventually went back to acting, it was because Spike Lee called me to do his movie Bamboozled. He promised it would be quick. I had Jaden with me and had a great time.

I always have my kids on the set with me. They’ve grown up on movie backlots, so it didn’t surprise me at all when they wanted to get into acting. It’s in their blood. It started when we were sitting at the table one day and Will said he was having trouble finding a kid to play his son in The Pursuit of Happyness. Jaden shot back, “I’ll audition!” I had to tell Will, “Listen. Don’t have him go in that room if you’re not seriously thinking of considering him.” I knew the chemistry they’d have would be undeniable.

Our daughter, Willow, has a very small part in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and that just happened because they called and said they’d love her to play little Gloria. I asked her if she wanted to, and she had so many questions about how the process works. It was like a school field trip for her. She loved it.

Sometimes people are surprised my kids got into acting at such a young age.

They say, “Hollywood is so hard.” And it is. But guess what—so is life. So you prepare your kids for challenges. You don’t teach them to back down because things are hard. You give them the tools necessary to deal. I teach my kids to keep their integrity, to remember that being a good person comes first and to stay true to who they are. If they know that, I can put them in any circumstance without worrying.

I’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges professionally, especially as an African-American woman. A long time ago, I auditioned for a role and they said, “Someone as pretty as you wouldn’t be going through abuse.” I’ll never forget that. Another time, I went in for a role and they had a stereotypical approach to portraying a black woman addicted to drugs. Some people only know what they see on the news. I can’t fight every battle. Sometimes you just do your job and hope people have their own epiphanies. But with someone I interact with on a regular basis or care about, I feel a responsibility to pull that person aside and say, “I just want to tell you that I got kind of offended.” Most of the time, people don’t even realize they’re saying something offensive.

It’s also tough to be a woman at work with a group of men. They sometimes talk over you. But as soon as you get loud and assertive, somebody wants to call you that b-word. I say, “No, that’s just the energy I have to take on to be heard in here.” You have to make your presence known.

I’ve tried to get myself into a position where I can pick the projects I want to do when I want to do them. My kids will say, “Mommy, you never do anything we can watch!” And I say, “That’s what your dad does. Mommy’s an R-rated kind of girl!” I’m going to keep doing my own thing, but, of course, when I did the Madagascar movies I was proud to make films my children could see.

Our kids want so much time with us. Willow still sleeps in our bed. Sometimes it’s hard for Will and me to go on a date or have time alone. I keep reminding him, “Eventually Jaden and Willow will be doing their own thing. So let’s enjoy this time.” We give them all we have right now, knowing there’ll be a day when it’ll be just the two of us again.

GUEST COLUMNIST: Jada Pinkett Smith, 37, stars in the animated film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, out in theaters this month. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Will Smith, and their three children.


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15 Questions with Jada Pinkett Smith

1. Sequels are usually not as well received as the original, but 'Escape 2 Africa' is even cuter than the first one ...

You know, I'm hearing that a lot! It's a lot of fun, and I think when you can make a sequel and people can enjoy it even more than the first one, that's quite a success.

2. What is it about Gloria the Hippo that you love so much?

I love that she's large. I've always wanted more body, and I got it with Gloria. [Laughs] She is full-figured and is throwing it around with all types of confidence and I just think that's fantastic. I think for every girl and every woman, one of the major lessons we must learn is just to accept ourselves for who we are, because that's what we got. That's it! And part of it is accepting our physicality. I just love that Gloria loves herself.

3. There were some new additions to the voice cast this time around -- did you get to hang out or record with Bernie Mac or Alec Baldwin or Will.i.Am during production?

No, it's too bad, but we never get to record together -- it's all separated. I actually just met Will.i.Am today ... I didn't get to hang out with him at all.

4. There's already been talk of a third 'Madagascar' -- would you be on board? And what would your dream destination for that one be?

Absolutely. If Jeffrey [Katzenberg] wanted me to do it, I'd be there with bells and whistles. What is that island? Mauritius! [Laughs] I'd be like, "Jeffrey, we need to go there -- I need to feel it. See, I've been to Africa so I know what that is, but we gotta figure this out. I need to know this." [Laughs]

5. What role in your career are you most proud of? And do you have a dream role?

I don't think I've done it yet! I think I have yet to achieve that one. I did have a dream role ... I think it's changed quite a bit. I really just eventually want to become a really fantastic writer-director. That's my dream right now. I think in between there, I'll find a character that I can go off and do real quick that can bring me some joy and pride. I'll never give up acting ... ever.

6. So you're looking for more projects like 'The Human Contract,' your recent feature-film writing and directorial debut?

Oh, yeah! That would be a piece I'm really proud of. Just the idea that it's an erotic drama and something that I directed and wrote -- we're doing the [festival] circuit right now. So I would say that 'Human Contract' is probably what I'm most proud of up to this point.

7. And you got to work with Paz Vega ... is she one of the most underrated actresses or what?

She is phenomenal! Working with her was a dream, it really was. And Jason Clarke, who's about to star in 'Public Enemies' with Johnny Depp that Michael Mann directed. It was a difficult project -- it's very emotional -- and they were both incredible. I love actors ... and I created a piece where they both had a lot of work to do. [Laughs]

8. You're also acting in and executive-producing an upcoming TNT drama series called 'Time Heals,' playing a nurse and single mother. Isn't it nice that all these cable networks are starting to have original programming?

Yes! And also giving women real voices. For me, this particular character just stood out. I'm excited being in front of a camera again with this character. I think I'm always gonna be in front of the camera in some capacity, but I also feel like I have a huge responsibility behind the camera. You know, [our company] Overbrook just got finished directing 'Secret Life of Bees' and that was a very, very important movie for me to be a part of. I'm trying to find projects that I can get some muscle behind and get made and get a home for. There's a lot of great projects out there for women with really strong voices, and there's an audience, you know?

9. You're a busy lady -- how do you balance work, family, music, having a life?

You know, I just put one foot in front of the other. First of all, I make sure to take care of myself spiritually, so I'm always happy. And not always happy in a sense of smiling, but like, to get the purpose of my life, my family, my marriage -- that's what motivates me. When I understand what my purpose is, it makes it very clear why I do what I do. I want to have a fulfilling marriage, I want to have happy kids, I also want to have a fulfilling career and I want to make change in the world -- and I'm not willing to compromise that. So if you're not willing to compromise, then you just gotta make sure you make it happen on every level. Let me tell you -- sometimes I feel like it's gonna kill me, you know? But at the end of the day when I survive and I look at what's been done, I go, "There you go, Jada. You can do it."

10. Your kids are acting now -- were you OK with that from the start?

You know, I was actually really OK with it because my kids were born into this. It's really something they see as a family business. Like, "You guys do it, so we feel like it's something we should be doing too. And we're pretty good at it, so I think we're gonna rock with this for a little while, Mom, until something changes." When Jaden told his father, "I can do that," I pulled Will aside and said, "Look. Don't have him audition if you're not really considering possibly having him do this. Because you're not gonna find anyone who's going to give you what he's going to give you. I'm just telling you that." Will was like, "Oh, OK ..." [Laughs] And he went in and blew everybody away and Will was like, "Oh my god, this is real." And I said, "I told you."

11. Do you think they really understand it all yet?

I've watched them really blossom, and I tell you what -- them working gives them more appreciation for what we do. They get it! When mommy and daddy are out on the set, they know what that means and what it is. And they're making their own money, so they're very like, "Uh-uh, I'm not gonna buy that!" [Laughs] They're very responsible how they spend their own money. They know what it means to work hard for something, which is fantastic. They have to utilize their own money for their special things, which is great for me.

12. Will and Jada don't give their kids allowances?

Heck, no! [Laughs] Guess what? They make their own money! They get a certain amount of money from their own money. How about that? Allowance from their own money. [Laughs] For me, this is not just about, "Ooh, you're doing movies!" While we're doing this, you're gonna be learning about life. When you work and you spend money, money goes away. So you better be really clear on what you're spending and why. And let me tell you, they don't spend. They are like, "OK, let me think on this. Do I really want that?" [Laughs] But if I'm buying it, it's like, "I have to have it!" [Laughs]

13. Do you ever feel like they're growing up too fast?

Well, my humble opinion -- and it's a very humble opinion because all kids are different and parents always have to be able to recognize what their kids need -- but if there's something that kids can do to work and actually feel like they're participating and providing for the family in some way, there is nothing better for a child's self-value. I've just watched it -- I think part of that is what keeps them on Earth. They feel like they're real participants, and contributing to their own lives and really doing things that they can be proud of, that they own.

14. What's the most ridiculous rumor you've ever heard about you and Will?

I would say the most ridiculous one is that our marriage is fake. You hear, like, it's a posed marriage ... are you serious? Really? It's too hard to fake it. It's hard! People who are saying that are not married.

15. Are there any rumors that ever really upset you? Rumors about you being Scientologists? Or the latest one that you're pregnant?

Aw, I wish I was pregnant, but I'm not. But no, when you know who you are and what you are ... I mean, we've been in this business a long time and that's just part of it. As long as you know you ain't doing nothing, that's all that matters. You only get upset when you see it and it's like "Uh-oh!" [Laughs] I mean, sometimes you get upset, especially when people are cruel, but there hasn't really been anything that could get Will and I really off our rockers.


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Will Smith Impressed With Son's Generous Spirit

Will Smith's teenage son Trey has stunned his proud dad by insisting all the guests attending his upcoming 16th birthday party donate gifts to Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

The movie star's son was so affected by the recent death of his grandmother, he decided that presents he didn't need had no worth if he couldn't donate them to others.

Smith says, "About eight weeks ago his grandmother died of cancer and he said he just realised they're just gifts... what does that really mean, and he asked all of his friends that are coming to the party to donate gifts to kids at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

"It was a really aggressive experience for him; he was there in the moment when she passed, so he got a real sense of that loss."

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Will Smith makes kids pay for own toys

Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith have devised a ‘cool’ way to teach their kids the value of money — they ask them to pay for their own.

Smith’s kids, Jaden, 10 and Willow, eight, are already following their parents’ footsteps. While Jaden starred with his dad in The Pursuit of Happiness, Willow lends her voice to the new Madagascar sequel.

And now, both the I Am Legend star and wife Jada Pinkett are bent on disciplining their kids as far as money is considered.

"We make it clear to them, "This is your money and things you want, you'll be paying for". Kids have to be very responsible without you having to do it for them,” The Daily Express quoted Jada as saying.

She added, "I'm their bank. They have to come to me and write up a little slip when they want to make a withdrawal."


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Katie Holmes: Jada Pinkett Smith 'Inspires Me'

Katie Holmes knows a thing or two about juggling a movie career, motherhood, and marriage to a superstar. So who does she consider a role model?

"Jada is so strong," Holmes tells PEOPLE of her friend Jada Pinkett Smith, 37. "She is a rare woman – a phenomenal friend, mother, wife. She inspires me."

Adds her husband, Tom Cruise: "Jada tells it like it is. She creates art in her life ... She's effortless. She just has such class."

Pinkett Smith, who once described Holmes, 29, as a tigress who "runs the show" at home, says the two families are close because they "have a real understanding. In what we do and where we are, there aren't many people you meet who are living on a parallel line ... who can understand the pressures."

Cruise, 46, also admires the way Pinkett Smith attends to her busy career (she’s currently the voice of Gloria the hippo in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, in which her daughter Willow, 8, plays the junior version of the sassy pachyderm) and still makes her husband of nearly 11 years, Will Smith, 40, and their children her No. 1 priority.

"She is an extraordinary woman and an amazing mother," he says. "She's constantly wanting to improve herself and her family." Agrees Holmes: "She's just a powerhouse."


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Exclusive Interview : Jada Pinkett-Smith

Jada Pinkett-Smith has come a long way since we first chatted 14 years ago when she was virtually an unknown starring in the little film "Jason's Lyric". Now a big star in a high profile marriage, Pinkett-Smith is a mother, an actress, a high-powered producer and recently made her feature directorial debut.

Fans will hear her voice in the new "Madagascar" sequel in which she reprises her role as the loveable Gloria, as the quartet of friends crash-land in Africa while trying to return to New York's Central Park Zoo. The actress and activist talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.

Question: When you agreed to do the first Madagascar - do you do movies like this for your kids, or for the child within you?

Smith: I do it for my kids, but if I was a bit more aware, I probably would do it for the child within me. I don't know if I'm that aware. [LAUGHTER] I probably need to do something like this for the child within me.

Question: Why is that?

Smith: Well, I mean, it's always nice to explore the child within, and to let it come out once in a while.

Question: So when they came up to you with this and said, "We'd like you to play a hippo," were you originally insulted by that?

Smith: No! Not at all! Absolutely not. She's like a cute, adorable character.

Question: What do you bring within yourself, to voice a character like this?

Smith: Just fun, and confidence, and love. I think that she's a character that really loves her friends, and she's just - Gloria is a lot of fun.

Question: Do you think that she's grown and evolved over the two movies?

Smith: I guess! You know, I mean, she finds love, and she's able to identify, recognize love, but I think Gloria has always been a pretty smart cookie. I just think you see more of - you see a different side of her in this particular film.

Question: Can you relate to her at all?

Smith: Absolutely, yeah.

Question: What aspect of her do you identify with the most?

Smith: Just her loyalty, and her love for her friends.

Question: You're obviously a very loyal person yourself.

Smith: Yes.

Question: Where does that come from?

Smith: I think just growing up how I grew up. You basically had - you know, your group of friends that were down for you, and you were down for them. And it was literally part of your survival. So it's like - that's just a code, you know? In the parts that I grew up. It's like, once you say you're down for somebody, that's it.

Question: The first time I spoke to you, which was a long time ago now, and obviously you were young and single, and you had the whole world in front of you. How surprised are you at the position that you've attained over the years?

Smith: I'm not really surprised at the position that I've attained professionally, because I've always kind of seen that for myself. I'm pretty much surprised at the position I've attained, just with the fact that I have a husband and a family. I never, ever saw myself married?

Question: Why is that? I mean, you're a good-looking girl.

Smith: I never wanted to be married. I never thought that there was a man worthy enough to lock me down in that way. And I never thought I would find him. I didn't think that was ever in my sights. [LAUGHTER] I just knew. I mean, you know, before Will came along, I had two other marriage proposals, and they were guys who were really good men. You know? And I was like, "That's it. I'm just not meant to do this. Because I don't think it gets any better than what I've got in front of me. And I can't make - I just - this isn't gonna work." You know? And then Will came along, and everything changed. He was worthy enough for me to go, "This is a guy I could spend the rest of my life with."

Question: Was it love at first sight?

Smith: Absolutely not. [LAUGHTER] No way. No, it wasn't love at first sight at all. I had actually known him for several years.

Question: How has it been trying to balance this extraordinary personal life you have, and this marriage, with a career that's obviously still extremely important to you?

Smith: You know, it's happiness. It's basically just maintaining a very nourished spiritual life, and maintaining happiness, and that being a priority. I feel like that motivates and creates energy to do it all and that every aspect of my life is a huge priority to me, and I don't want to compromise in any area. So I just have to work extra hard to just make it work. I wish I had the formula, but the formula just is. I'm not willing to compromise. I want to have a great marriage. I want to have a great family. And I want to have a great career. I believe you can have it all, if you're willing to work for it. I think most people that's a big task.

Question: Now, you obviously are so not busy that you had time to write and direct a movie. What's going on with The Human Contract?

Smith: The Human Contract is - we're actually doing film festivals at this particular point in time. I'm going to the Chicago Film Festival on Monday, and I'm invited to the Denver Film Festival. we'll be doing film festivals overseas. Actually, we just got invited to another film festival in Germany and Spain. So we're doing the film festival circuit right now.

Question: Will you go to Sundance, do you think?

Smith: You know what? We'll see. I'm not sure. I don't think so.

Question: It sounds like a great idea. It sounds like a really great idea for a movie.

Smith: Well, you know, it's a subject matter that I've always been very interested in. The idea that secrets destroy you and, I know that firsthand. So that's basically what it's about. A man who has a secret, and he meets this really beautiful woman who reveals his secret and it becomes this very tumultuous relationship with him trying to deal with it- you know, being revealed. I found it to be a very interesting - and so, you know, I call it an erotic drama.


Edited by Ale
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Ben Stiller, Chris Rock & Jada PInket Smith au Grand Journal



Hollywood stargazing in Netanya

Hollywood stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith visit Israel to promote animated movie 'Madagascar – Escape 2 Africa.' Marty the zebra loves Israel, Rock declares

Hollywood stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith landed in Israel on Saturday to promote the animated movie "Madagascar – Escape 2 Africa", in which they provide the voices for the leading characters Alex the lion, Marty the zebra and Gloria the hippo.

The actors were joined by producer Jeffery Katzenberg.

Rock, Stiller and Pinkett Smith

The start-studded entourage landed at Ben-Gurion airport in the afternoon, and after a short break at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, continued to the Globus-Max cinema complex in Netanya to attend the movie's premiere in Israel.

Pinkett Smith with a friend

Stiller, whose last visit to Israel was 27 years ago, told Ynet that he hopes to come here again with his family. Pinkett Smith said she was sorry that the visit would be so short, and Rock summed up his first three hours in the Land of milk and honey with the sentence, "Marty the Zebra loves Israel."

Shortly after the premiere, the delegation left for Jerusalem for a tour of the Old City and the Western Wall. On Sunday they are scheduled to visit the Dead Sea before their departure at noon.


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Madagascar 2: UK Premiere





From people.com

Jada Pinkett Smith Dishes on Her Diva-Less Family

Pinkett Smith, 37, has been married to funnyman Will Smith for 11 years, and their two kids, 10-year-old Jaden and 8-year-old Willow, already have a few movie credits under their belts. Jaden performed alongside dad in The Pursuit of Happyness, while Willow voiced the character of Baby Gloria in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Fittingly, Pinkett Smith starred as the older version – Gloria.

But Pinkett Smith says her family is simply doing what they love.

"Everybody just enjoys doing what they do," she says in an exclusive chat with PEOPLE at the London premiere of the Madagascar sequel. "We're all really happy, so we just do it."

She adds: "Thank goodness in my family we don't allow divas."

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20242291,00.html
Edited by Ale
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