For Jada Pinkett Smith, the shock of seeing Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards was two-fold.
The dramatic incident occurred right after Chris made the joke, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” which prompted the 52-year-old actress, who suffers from alopecia, to roll her eyes. Moments later, after Chris quipped that it was “a nice [joke]” after being met with some uncomfortable reaction from the audience, he saw Will make his way onto the stage.
“I did that eye roll not so much for me, and I think this is really important, but the fact that there could be a jab at alopecia,” Jada says in a new teaser for her upcoming sit-down interview with Hoda Kotb.
In a sneak peek of the interview, which aired Friday morning on the Today Show, Jada explains what was going through her head at the time as Will shouted, “keep my wife’s name out your f**king mouth” at the 58-year-old comedian. Jada recently revealed that she and Will have, in fact, been separated since 2016.
“First of all, I’m really shocked because, mind you, I’m not there — we haven’t called each other husband and wife in a long time,” she shares. “I’m like, ‘What is going on right now?'”
As for the slap, Jada says she was “really worried for Will,” who took home an Oscar that night for his role in King Richard, and that the outburst was wildly out of character for him.
While clips from the nominated acts played for broadcast viewers at home, Jada says that Chris attempted to make contact with her in the audience.
“Chris looks to me and he says, ‘Jada, I meant you, I meant no harm,'” she recalls. “I’m just out of it because I’m really worried about Will.”
At that point, Jada claims, Will was “still talkin.'”
“Now he’s mad because Chris is talking to me,” she says. “And I go, ‘Chris, this is about some old s**t.’ That’s all I could think to say, right. And I couldn’t really take in his apology.”
Jada speculates that the issue may have stemmed from the “false narrative” she says she created in 2020 to explain her romantic relationship with August Alsina. At the time, Jada and Will sat down with one another on her Facebook Watch series, Red Table Talk, for an emotional conversation.
“My honest opinion about that is that narrative,” she says of the slap, “had more to do with the false narrative that I helped to create on the Red Table.”
She continues, channeling the headlines that followed them that year: “‘The adulttress wife who forced him to go to the table and sit there,’ you know what I mean? ‘And now, look at what she’s done. She has the power with an eye roll to make him go up and slap somebody on stage.'”
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Will and Jada’s relationship has been recently thrust into the spotlight recently as Jada revealed to Hoda that she and Will have been separated for seven years. “Yes, it was not a divorce on paper, but it was a divorce,” Jada said in a preview for the interview published on Oct. 11, ahead of the Oct. 17 release of her memoir, Worthy.
The actress disclosed that she and Will, 55, have been leading “completely separate lives” since 2016, even though they never officially divorced. The couple got married on Dec. 31, 1997.
As for their joint public appearances on red carpets and social media in the years since, a source tells ET, “What you see is the loving way they choose to move forward.”
Jada’s Story – An NBC News Special airs Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.