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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith became a Hollywood power couple when they married in 1997. She became Jada Pinkett Smith and they would both manage the careers of their children together, Jaden and Willow, too. It seemed like both were independently successful, but Will revealed that Jada had given up on acting when they got together. Will writes about their courtship in his autobiography, Will.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith hold hands on New Year's Eve 1999
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith | Rich Lipski/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith came back to Hollywood to be Will Smith’s wife

Will and Jada did not start dating until his marriage to Sheree Zampino ended. Will and Zampiino’s divorce was final in 1995, but Zampino, with whom he has a son, Trey, asked for a divorce in February. So, by February, 1995, Jada had done Jason’s Lyric, A Low Down Dirty Shame and Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight. The Nutty Professor would come in 1996, but it almost didn’t happen for Jada. 

“What I didn’t know at the time was that Jada was in Baltimore,” he wrote. “She had been so discouraged and disillusioned by Hollywood that she had left the business and moved back home. She had purchased a beautiful, turn-of-the-century, five-acre farm in Maryland and had begun renovations. She had decided to build a simple, quiet life for herself.” 

Will Smith called Jada Pinkett Smith as soon as he got his divorce papers

Will waited five days from receiving his divorce papers from Zampino to call Jada. They had met before. Will saw Jada at a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air audition she didn’t get, and went to a Different World taping hoping to meet her. That’s actually where he met Zampino. Will and Jada met again while he was married. 

“On February 19, only five days after I received my divorce papers, I called Jada,” he wrote. “I hadn’t seen her, or heard from her, in months. The phone seemed to ring forever.”

When Jada picked up, Will asked if she was seeing anyone. When she said no, he was bold. 

“‘Cool, you’re seeing me now, a’ight?” Will wrote was his response. “A’ight, I’m at work. I’ll hit you later. OK?’”

That brought Jada back to Hollywood. 

“After my phone call, she went directly to the airport and flew to Los Angeles,” he wrote. “Jada would never spend a single night in her Maryland farmhouse.”

They snuck around until the divorce was final

February to December is a long year. Will and Jada decided to keep their relationship on the D/L, but they had fun doing it. 


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My divorce from Sheree wasn’t yet final, so Jada and I decided it would be prudent if we kept our relationship under wraps. (We were both getting pretty famous, and we felt it just wouldn’t have been a good look.) The blessed yet unintended consequence was that we spent every single moment together, just us. The first three or four months were as wild a romantic whirlwind as our bodies could have possibly handled. We traveled to exotic secret getaways — Cabo, private Caribbean Islands, Aspen, secluded estates in Maui — and we discovered private air travel. We checked in under aliases (I would tell you what they are, but we still use them today). 

Will Smith, Will