Is She Right? Jada Pinkett Says People Resent Seeing Little Girls With A Sense Of Self They Don’t Have
I remember vividly the first time I came to know the name Jada Pinkett. It was in the last days of “A Different World,” when the “The Cosby Show ” spin-off sitcom set on a Historically Black College campus was struggling to keep its freshness as it transitioned in to the early 90′s. Beloved characters Dwayne Wayne & Whitley Gilbert were all grown-up and professional, and the show’s once authentic connection to college life, youth culture and energy was dwindling. Insert Jada Pinkett’s Lena James, a powerful pint-sized freshman who boomed with energy and breathed new life in to cast. She joins the cast as a freshman, Lena James, introducing her self to the common area with a not so humble solo step routine: “L to the E, to the N, to the A, Step off, you ain’t getting no play!” From that moment on, in my 9 year-old mind, I was pretty sure I wanted to be her. She exemplified the spirit of what largely came to define the creative Black experience in the 90′s: loud, colorful and unapologetically proud. That was 20 years ago.
I find myself on the phone with Jada on a Thursday afternoon about a month ago. She’s in the process of doing promotions for “Free Angela And All Political Prisoners,” the brilliant documentary directed by Shola Lynch. After a friend shared the film with her, Jada came on as a producer using her hollywood muscle to help get the film distributed in select AMC theaters nationwide. What I thought would be the typical 15-minute movie junket interview (abruptly ended by publicists listening in on the other end), turned in to a 90-minute phone call with the real Mrs. Smith about everything from her early relationship with her husband to why people should lay off Rihanna.
In what #TeamBEautiful has deemed the Best.Jada.Interview.Ever., we speak with the stylish and brutally honest A-lister about about parenting, dating, marriage, Black hollywood, and why America loves to hate on little girls. Check out the first of our three part series.
HB: You get a lot of criticism on the way you parent, has it ever bothered you?
JPS: You know what, I get it. In people eyes, I could see how it could be radical. It’s so funny the more I sit back and think about it, I was raised like this. It’s so natural to me–my situation was different; I had a lot of freedom. My mother worked a lot and she also struggled with drugs. So I had a lot of freedom at 12. But I also paid attention to where freedom worked and where it didn’t. One of the freedoms that I had was hair and clothes and how it completely [helped to] develop my self-esteem and sense of worth. And how, if I could dye my hair blue and shave it on the sides and deal with people remarks or smirks while I am walking to school, I’m good. To be able to stand tall in my own personal convictions for who I am and what I decided I wanted to be. And I was given that at a very early age. So by the time I got to 18 and I came out to LA, there was nobody out here that was going to pull me out of my own Jada game because I was very clear about who I am. You aren’t going to sucker me into to doing some crazy Isht I didn’t want to do. I didn’t have someone dictating to me along on what I need to be, and then at 18 struggling to figure out–I was already there. And the difference I see in Willow at 12 is, she’s got a loving father and the truth of the matter is that a girl’s emotional development is really strongly developed based on her relationship with her father. I just think of parenting at this: I don’t believe until waiting until a child is 18 to throw them to the world. I’d rather have kids in my house with me, building out certain freedoms as you go, and being there with them in my house while they are exercising these certain freedom so that we can be in the process in these freedoms together. When my children are 18, they will be fine. I don’t have to worry about them. Life starts when you pop out of the womb, and that’s what I believe!
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