Jada Pinkett Smith’s ties to Jamaica are inextricable.
Her grandmother was born on the island, and the Set It Off actress would go on to give her children two middle names per local tradition.
But, according to her new memoir Worthy, the country also holds a treasured memory of the time she professed her love for her husband and Hollywood star Will Smith.
The pair were introduced by mutual friend and actor Duane Martin in the early 1990s, as Smith wanted her to play his girlfriend on his hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She declined as she was focused on doing movies, but they’d occasionally bump into each other in the industry. Smith attempted to befriend the Baltimore native, but she withdrew on the basis that he was then married to Sheree Zampino.
By February 1995, Zampino had filed for divorce, and Smith called up Pinkett Smith to declare that “you’re seeing me now.” A whirlwind romance ensued, including expensive gifts, private jets, and luxurious getaways. They’d take one such vacation to Jamaica for Thanksgiving that year, staying at a brick house rental with a pool.
In chapter 11 of Worthy, Pinkett Smith details getting into an argument with the Bad Boys actor after hearing him exchange holiday greetings with Zampino’s mother on a phone call. Months prior, he had told her that Zampino wanted to call off the divorce and try again, and though Pinkett Smith was crushed, she encouraged them to work it out for the sake of their infant son. Two weeks later, they proceeded with the divorce.
Hearing Smith on the phone with Zampino’s family dug up insecurities that he would perhaps leave her again. To make matters worse, Pinkett Smith admitted to being belligerent after having one rum punch too many.
“If you’re divorced, what the hell you need to talk to Sheree’s mother for?” Pinkett Smith asked. “What was all that?”
Smith ended the call and responded, “What do you mean, why am I talking to her? It’s Thanksgiving, and she’s my son’s grandmother.”
Smith migrated to a lounge chair by the pool and the two continued to go back and forth, with the Miami rapper calling her drunk.
“I’m not talking to you about this,” he said. “I actually don’t want to talk to you at all.”
Pinkett Smith realised she was out of line and sought to get things back to “hot and sexy”. Her grand plan? Climb atop the roof and jump off into the pool, screaming, “I love you, Will!”
Brushing off the possibility of taking a misstep and hitting the concrete – especially since she was still inebriated – Pinkett Smith took a run for it, literally, and landed in the pool. Shivering and climning out of the water, she continued to profess her love for him.
“While I shuffled closer to Will, I could see him smiling from ear to ear,“ she wrote. “My plan worked! He got up and wrapped me in a towel that was on the back of his chair and pulled me into his lap.”
She continued, “This was us and this night was a preview of the next damn near three decades of our life together. Living on the edges of our own making and driving each other absolutely crazy.”
The pair would go on to get married in 1997, becoming an adulated couple in black Hollywood. The Smiths have been less pedestalised these days due to an entanglement, a certain red table, their seven-year separation, and the Oscar slap heard around the world.