Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Relationship Timeline Is Full of Ups and Downs
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have gone through so much together over the years, from breakup rumors to cheating allegations. Despite all of the speculation about their relationship, the actors have managed to remain married for over two decades. Since they’ve been together for so long, fans were shocked to learn that the pair quietly separated in 2016.
On Oct. 11, “Today” shared a clip from Jada’s NBC News special, in which she revealed that she and Will have “been living separate lives” for the past seven years, though they haven’t legally divorced. “By the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying,” she said. Jada explained that neither of them had publicly spoken about their split until now because they were “still trying to figure out” where they stood as partners.
Since 2016, the stars have attended several red carpet events together along with their children, Jaden and Willow Smith. Most recently, Jada stood by Will after he was criticized for slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
If you want to know more about Jada and Will’s decades-long marriage, then scroll through the slideshow for their complete relationship timeline.
1994: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Meet For the First Time
Will and Jada met on the set of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1994. The “Girls Trip” actor had auditioned to play Will’s on-screen girlfriend, Lisa Wilkes. Although she didn’t get the part, Jada left a big impression on Will.
During an October 2018 episode of “Red Table Talk,” Will recalled meeting Jada for the first time. “It was a really unique, beautiful power,” he said of their first conversation. “We had that moment. We connected, but I was married and that was it,” he said. At the time, the “Independence Day” star was married to actor and producer Sheree Zampino, who is the mother of his oldest son, Trey Smith.
Jada made it clear that she and Will “did not have an affair while he was married.” However, their meeting caused the “Bad Boys” actor to question everything. “I had a realization that I wasn’t with the person I was supposed to be with,” he said on “Red Table Talk.”
1995: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Begin Dating
In that same “Red Table Talk” episode, Will revealed that he asked out Jada shortly after he and Zampino had filed for divorce in 1995. “I called Jada. I said ‘Hey Jada, what’s up? It’s Will,'” he recalled. “She said ‘Hey, you doing?’ I said, ‘Good, are you seeing anybody?’ She said, ‘Uh, no.’ and I said ‘Cool, you’re seeing me now.'”
Will and Jada soon began dating, and later that year, they flaunted their new romance by attending the premiere of “Devil in a Blue Dress” as a couple.
November 1997: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Get Engaged
After two years of dating, Will spontaneously decided to propose to Jada in November 2017. While talking to People in February 2005, the actor said he randomly popped the question when he and Jada were getting ready to go to sleep. “I looked over at her, and I said, ‘Hey, we might be real good married. Wassup? You wanna marry me?'” Will said.
The moment was so “unplanned” that Will didn’t have a ring for Jada, but that didn’t deter her from accepting his proposal. “She said yes,” Will said. “It’s really weird when you live the kind of lifestyle that we live: simplicity becomes the jewel.”
December 1997: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Get Married
Just weeks after getting engaged, Will and Jada officially tied the knot on New Year’s Eve in 1997. They wed in an intimate ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland.
July 1998: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Welcome Son Jaden
Will and Jada welcomed their first child together, son Jaden Smith, on July 8, 1998. Jaden has grown up to follow in his parents’s footsteps by becoming an actor and musician. In 2006, he starred in “The Pursuit of Happyness” alongside his father. The role earned Jaden an MTV Movie Award for breakthrough performance. Afterward, Jaden went on to star in other films like “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Karate Kid,” and “After Earth,” as well as the Netflix series “The Get Down.” Jaden has also made a name for himself as a rapper with three studio albums under his belt.
October 2000: Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Welcome Daughter Willow
On Oct. 31, 2000, Will and Jada welcomed their second child together, daughter Willow Smith. Over the years, Willow has dabbled in acting by appearing in the films “I Am Legend” and “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.” Willow has also lent her voice in several animated projects, including “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and “Adventure Time.” After launching her music career in 2010 with her debut single “Whip My Hair,” Willow went on to release five studio albums. She also cohosted “Red Table Talk” with her mother and grandmother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, from its premiere in May 2018 to its cancellation in April 2023.
April 2013: Jada Pinkett Smith Addresses Open Marriage Rumors
In an April 2013 interview with HuffPost Live, Jada opened up about her and Will’s marriage after years of rumors swirled about them being in an open relationship. “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him, or vice versa.”
Since some fans took Jada’s comments as confirmation the couple was in an open marriage, the actor released a lengthy follow-up statement on Facebook (via E! News) clarifying her comments. “Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one,” her message read.
August 2015: Will Smith Denies He and Jada Pinkett Smith Are Divorcing
Will and Jada have been at the center of breakup rumors several times over the years. One of those instances happened in August 2015 when the couple was speculated to be heading for a divorce. At the time, Will released a statement on Facebook explaining that he doesn’t “usually respond to foolishness,” however, this time, he felt the need to address the rumors since they had gotten so out of hand. “So many people have extended me their ‘deepest condolences’ that I figured – ‘What the hell… I can be foolish, too!'” he wrote. “So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness… Jada and I are… NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! : -).”
The “Men In Black” star called Jada his “Queen” and told fans that if he and Jada were ever really getting divorced, the news would come directly from him.
March 2022: Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock Over Joke About Jada Pinkett Smith
During the 2022 Oscars ceremony, Will slapped Chris Rock on stage after the comedian made a joke about Jada’s buzz cut. Since she’s struggled with hair loss due to her alopecia diagnosis, Rock’s comment clearly didn’t sit well with the “King Richard” star. “Keep my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth!” Will told Rock after slapping him across the face.
That July, Will apologized to Rock for his “unacceptable” behavior in a YouTube video.
October 2023: Jada Pinkett Smith Reveals She and Will Smith Have Separated
Ahead of the release of her memoir “Worthy,” Jada appeared on “Today” to discuss one of her book’s most shocking revelations: she and Will have been separated since 2016. The actor said the pair kept their split a secret for so long because they weren’t ready to let the public know. “[We were] still trying to figure out, between the two of us, how to be in partnership,” she said. “In regards to, how do we present that to people? We hadn’t figured that out.”
When she was asked what led to their breakup, Jada said that it was “a lot of things.” In the end, she and Will just couldn’t make it work. “By the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying,” she said. “I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”
Although Will and Jada are separated, the actor said the pair haven’t legally gotten a divorce since they promised to “work through whatever.”