Will Smith: ‘Jada never believed in conventional marriage’


Will Smith’s GQ profile was probably supposed to be the first piece in his Oscar campaign for King Richard, the film where he plays Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena. I’ve heard the early reviews and there’s a consensus building that this could be Will’s year, finally. But the thing is, very little of this GQ cover profile is actually about King Richard! Will spent the bulk of the interview talking about his memoir, Will, which will be released in November. I’m a little bit worried that the revelations in his memoir will completely overshadow his King Richard performance. Maybe it will be a dual promotion, with one helping the other. But I wonder. You can read the full GQ piece here. Some highlights:

On his new series, Emancipation: “I’ve always avoided making films about slavery. In the early part of my career… I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise. And the first time I considered it was Django. But I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance. This was one that was about love and the power of Black love. And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”

Playing Richard Williams in King Richard: “Richard Williams is a lot like my father. So when I first read [the script], I understood what it’s like to want your kids to succeed. I had done it a little bit with my kids. I understood what it was to try to mold a young mind, how it’s different with sons than it is with daughters.”

How Black artists should use BLM to make art: “I just want to encourage Black Americans to take the acknowledgment and seize upon the present global opportunities. I would just like us to argue less about certain things and pay attention to the big ripe fruit.”

He doesn’t like Defund The Police: “So ‘Abolish the police. Defund the police.’ I would love if we would just say ‘Defund the bad police.’ It’s almost like I want, as Black Americans, for us to change our marketing for the new position we’re in. So ‘critical race theory,’ just call it ‘truth theory.’ The pendulum is swinging in our direction beautifully. And there’s a certain humility that will most capitalize on the moment for the future of Black Americans, without discounting the difficulty and the pain and the emotion. This is a difficult area to discuss, but I feel like the simplicity of Black Lives Matter was perfect. Anybody who tries to debate Black Lives Matter looks ridiculous. So when I talk about the marketing of our ideas, Black Lives Matter was perfection. From a standpoint of getting it done, Black Lives Matter gets it done. ‘Defund the police’ doesn’t get it done, no matter how good the ideas are. I’m not saying we shouldn’t defund the police. I’m saying, just don’t say that, because then people who would help you won’t.”

In his memoir, he writes about his abusive father: “My father tormented me. And he was also one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. He was one of the greatest blessings of my life, and also one of my greatest sources of pain.”

Calling the Oracle, Denzel Washington: “Throughout the years, I would always call Denzel. He’s a real sage. I was probably 48 or something like that and I called Denzel. He said, ‘Listen. You’ve got to think of it as the funky 40. Everybody’s 40s are funky.’ He said, ‘But just wait till you hit the f-ck-it 50s.’ He said, ‘Just bear with your 40s.’ I stopped and I was like, ‘The funky 40s and the f-ck-it 50s.’ And that’s exactly what happened. It just became the f-ck-it 50s, and I gave myself the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do.”

He told an intimacy coach that his dream was to have a harem of girlfriends. She insisted he name specific women he’d want to invite to his harem. Misty Copeland, Smith replied. And Halle Berry too. “I don’t know where I saw it or some sh-t as a teenager, but the idea of traveling with 20 women that I loved and took care of and all of that, it seemed like a really great idea. And then, after we played it out a little bit, I was like, ‘That would be horrific. That would be horrific.’ I was like, ‘Can you imagine how miserable?’

Going on Red Table Talk with Jada: “Jada never believed in conventional marriage.… Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection. We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. 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.”

Will had other partners too: A viewer could have walked away thinking that Jada was the only one engaging in other sexual relationships, when that was not, Smith delicately explained to me, in fact the case. Or take one of the memes spawned by their discussion, a screenshot of Smith looking stern-faced and droopy-eyed. “It was midnight and we were going on vacation the next day,” Smith explained, noting that the details they were discussing were, by that point, years in the past. “It was like, no, no, no, guys, I’m not sad. I’m f–king exhausted.”

[From GQ]

The journalist who spoke to Will is Wesley Lowery, and Lowery got an advanced copy of Will’s memoir. Lowery mentioned to Will that he was surprised at how little talk about marriage is in the book. Will explains that it was harder to really go into all of the ins and outs of the bad years in his marriage to Jada because it wasn’t just about him and his stuff, it was about what Jada wanted and needed too. So don’t buy the book if you’re expecting to read a lot about his marriage. That being said, his memoir does sound really good. I do wonder if it will overshadow his Oscar campaign though.

Cover & IG courtesy of GQ.

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44 Responses to “Will Smith: ‘Jada never believed in conventional marriage’”

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  1. Leigh_S says:

    I love Will Smith, always have. There’s something about even most of his ‘lighter’ characters that breaks my heart a little and makes me cry. (like Hancock and MiB series)

    I think some of the GQ profile explains why.

  2. Woke says:

    Why celebrities feel the need to reveal to us the most intimate part of their marriage ? I think there’s a way to write a memoir without disclosing those kind of details.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Then it’s not a memoir.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      I don’t get this thinking. People can reveal whatever they want about themselves. It’s their truth.

    • Seraphina says:

      I’m on the fence about this one. Yeah, it’s a lot to open up about but when who knows who is listening and it may help someone – or a couple. Being able to identify that there are others with the same struggles helps. Plus, it may help Will and Jada (being open about it). Kinda like when mothers talk about their struggles. Marriage is not perfect. It’s not a Disney movie.

  3. Noki says:

    I remember the open marriage/swingers rumours since atleast the late 90s. They never confirmed or denied it for decades until August commited the ultimate no no and fell in love. I think if you are going to engage with someone who is in an open marriage you really need to know what your getting into.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Falling in love isn’t the issue. It’s beautiful and great when falling in love happens. The challenge is when people fall in love and their ideas of love include possession and ownership and different agreements than partners previously discussed. And when falling in love happens and there are power imbalances at play.

      • Noki says:

        He fell in love with someone who was never going to leave her husband,I dont know what promises they made to each other but he was clearly blindsided. Hence August lashing out to the point where they finally admitted it after decades of saying nothing.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Maybe Will is not fussed about winning an Oscar. It hasn’t done much for the black people who have won it.

  5. Tanya Nguyen says:

    Jada and Will do not know how to communicate in direct and concise sentences. They pepper their language with so much psychobabble and word salad that you don’t really know what they’re really trying to say. Is it really so hard to say ” I am miserable in this marriage. We’re not getting divorced but I am miserable.”

    • Southern Fried says:

      I know what you mean. Also seems like over the years he and Jada have been dishonest while claiming they’re so open and honest. At this point I really don’t care about either of them. There’s plenty of other people who actually are honest to admire and not so needy for attention and approval.

    • lucy2 says:

      It was rumored they dabbled in Scientology around the time they started talking about their relationship so much, I wonder how much that influences the way they speak about it.

  6. JRenee says:

    Maybe it’s me, but revelations he provides should be from his perspective. He laid it on Jada and basically says he’s just going along with it…

    • Lala11_7 says:

      Jrenee…THIS….he’s ALWAYS come off more than a little passive about this…which I think is disingenuous and has actually turned me off from his acting cause that fakery for me…seeps into his work….

    • Kate says:

      I didn’t get that from what he said. It sounded like he was providing perspective as to why monogamy wasn’t the default assumption for them, but that they chose it anyway for most of their marriage. If anything, she went along with him? Who knows, like someone said above everything they say is so danced around. Just say we are open-minded and didn’t think our marriage had to be 100% monogamous, so we agreed on our own rules for what an open marriage would look like.

  7. NewKay_ says:

    Will Smith is one of those actors who isn’t very smart- but has a massive platform and uses it to pontificate on things he thinks he understands and has great thoughts on- but he clearly doesn’t. Defund the police is an example. He has such a cursory, basic understanding.

  8. Ann says:

    I’m actually really glad he said that about the “Defund The Police” slogan, because I agree. I had a big argument with my daughter, who was then about 21, about how they should change the slogan for the movement because it gave the wrong impression and would alienate people. I told her it sounded like they wanted to get rid of law enforcement entirely, and people would not want that. I also told her it might hurt Dems running in moderate districts, and I was right. They said so themselves.

    Words matter.

    • chai35 says:

      I’d urge you to wander over and re-read Letter from Birmingham Jail as a reminder the role that white moderates have in preventing real action.

      “I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action.”

      Many in the defund the police movement want actual police abolition, so to ask them to maybe say “defund the bad police” is remarkably bad form.

    • Sigmund says:

      Ann- The phrase is “defund the police” because that’s what some people want. They don’t want the “bad” police defunded, because in their experience, all police are bad. The police force, to them, is an instrument of oppression and white supremacy. I’m afraid your understanding of the “defund the police” movement is incomplete.

  9. Lucy says:

    Discussing “relational perfection” sounds exhausting, because it’s impossible. I mean, I’m glad they’ve reached a point where they feel good about whatever they have, but man. I get tired just hearing about it.

  10. Millennial says:

    This profile was so strange. I honestly don’t know how his Oscar chances will go if this is what we can expect from his campaign. He is a talented actor with a huge range. But just kinda weird.

  11. Shirurusu says:

    Eek Im sorry but all I got is I can’t stand Jada. I saw her interview where she talked about how horrible she thought gerting married was and how she didn’t want to do it (but did anyway) and Wills heart was just breaking the entire time hearing her trample all over their marriage. Im not saying he’s perfect but she strikes me as a narcissist :/

  12. lucy2 says:

    I’m more inclined to read his memoir if he doesn’t talk about their marriage that much, because wow, they talk about it a LOT, and have for eons now. I think they think people care way more than they actually do.

  13. L4frimaire says:

    The Richard Williams movie looks really good and really want to see it. I don’t know what’s going on with his facial hair, but that Amish, Abe Lincoln beard is not a good look for him. Why is he doing that to his face?

  14. remarks says:

    I don’t want to know this much about his marriage, although for some reason I think I already knew.

  15. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    I don’t know a lot about the Williams sisters except that they are both extraordinary athletes…. Why are they making a movie about their Dad instead of one about the queens themselves?

    • Calypso says:

      I had the same thought lmao we have the greatest athlete of all time, so let’s make a movie about… her DAD.

      • outoftheshadows says:

        Their dad did things like make them play tennis while he paid white kids to shout racial slurs at them, in order to “toughen them up.” He is an incredibly polarizing figure and pushed them extremely hard. He is probably part of the reason they are so good at what they do, but I would never attribute their success to his methods–if anything, having a father who was that driven must have been a hurdle.

        God Bless Serena and Venus. I saw Venus play years ago and she was pure grace on the court.

      • Deering24 says:

        This is designed to appeal to the “bootstraps”/Joe Clark/“discipline and abuse are the same thing” movie crowd.

  16. Calypso says:

    FUN FACT: US approval of interracial marriages is at an all-time high (94%), however in 1997 there was a huge jump, from 48 to 65% approval.

    There is some genuine speculation that the jump in 1997 is because of…….. Will Smith. His breakout mainstream roles were just getting started, 1996-1997, and like he says in his interview, he played heartthrob, Black excellence roles not necessarily defined by their Blackness (Independence Day, Men in Black) that were also, conveniently, not “scary” stereotypical roles (drug dealer, criminal, etc). He was approachable, effortlessly charming, and nonthreatening to white people. So suddenly, yeah, people are ok with interracial marriage! Will Smith! He’s clean-cut!

    Anyways, just a theory. I get it, too, anyone who DIDN’T have a crush on Will Smith at the peak of his fame was lying.

    • SarahCS says:

      Oh my goodness yes. I still watch Bad Boys and occasionally re-wind the running scene. Aaaahhhhhh……. He absolutely put himself in the ‘could have been Tom Cruise’ roles and I watched him so much more as an actor because of that. I like my entertainment fairly light and often with plenty of explosions and chase scenes. He did that do well and clearly made his mark as a result.

      That reminds me, could be time to re-watch Enemy of the State again.

  17. psl says:

    Well, I guess that is a good thing because both of them have had same sex relationships. These two have annoyed me forever. Loved Will in the 90’s but ever since he and Jada had kids…..they just annoy me. The give out way too much info no one asked for…..

  18. Bobbie says:

    Why can’t men be satisfied with one woman? Why do they have to cruise or try to get with so many different women? I have had 2 male friends, independent of each other, tell me they find half of the women they encounter on a daily basis appealing! HALF! For women, they are lucky to see one guy … maybe in a week.

    • remarks says:

      Here, it sounds like he wanted or wants to be the monogamous one but she preferred the “open” option.

      I’m a little surprised he never walked. It does seem like he has a preference for being faithful to each other, but maybe he really loves her that much.

    • Lyds says:

      @Bobbie We aren’t called the “fairer” sex for no reason! But I get it; I am happily married but when I was single, I wished I could crush as easily as my guy friends, or even just find multiple people attractive and desirable. Evolutionarily, it benefits us to be pickier as we could fall pregnant from any rando…but evolutionarily, we’re also supposedly most attracted to the Alpha Male who will give us fit kids who survive, so…screw that! *Hangs head in shame over past secret crushes on jerky, alpha guys*

  19. Isa says:

    He doesn’t seem happy. I’ve read posts by people in open marriages to know people can be fulfilled and happy in open marriages and this doesn’t seem the case for Will. Either that or he’s one of those men that think only women should be monogamous.

  20. Well Wisher says:

    I understand what Will is trying to do, he wants to separate Will Smith the man, from Will Smith the persona, he fully expect that he may lose some of his fans but probably is okay with the idea. It is about being his authentic self, he and Jada has done a lot of work in the realm of well-being and it shows.
    A long life means peaks, valleys and plains, growth is in the response to those things. I am looking forward to the film and the book. My response will not be shaped by Oscars, lots of excellent performances go unrewarded in terms of accolades.
    His eventual response to Janet, however longed it took, has sealed my admiration for him. He is human, afterall.

  21. Granger says:

    I’m with those who think he sounds very unhappy. He talks about “endless discussions” with Jada about “relational perfection,” and giving each other space, trust, freedom — and then says, “I don’t suggest this road for anybody.” I don’t know if he meant he doesn’t suggest it for everybody? Because anybody has a very different connotation.

    He clearly does a ton of therapy in order to convince himself that he’s this great, feminist husband who’s just allowing his wife to live her truth, when in reality, he’s miserable.