Jada Pinkett Smith Revealed She Was ‘Bursting Into Tears’ Early in Her Career and ‘Didn’t Know Why’

Jada Pinkett Smith was fortunate to enjoy career success after she made her move to LA but, she admitted during a 2018 Red Table Talk, she had an “emotional breakdown” in her 20s. She shared some of her journey with depression and how she found her way to happiness.

Jada Pinkett Smith attends the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards
Jada Pinkett Smith attends the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards | David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith said she had a nervous breakdown

During a 2018 Red Table Talk episode about mental health, Pinkett Smith got candid about suffering from depression even as her career was taking off.

“I had an emotional breakdown that definitely I feel like affected my mental stability,” she explained. “I had gotten to L.A. and gotten a certain amount of success and realized that that wasn’t the answer. That that wasn’t what was gonna make everything OK.”

“It actually made things worse and I became extremely suicidal and I had a complete emotional collapse,” Pinkett Smith continued. “When you just don’t have control over your emotions, your thoughts, you feel completely and utterly out of control.”

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The actor didn’t know why she was bursting into tears

Pinkett Smith said she was “severely depressed” at the time and now knows “it was what people would consider a nervous breakdown.”

She explained how challenging it was to feel this way. “Every moment of the day, you’re talking to yourself, trying to keep yourself on track … (trying to keep yourself) from hurting yourself, trying to keep yourself from other people realizing that something’s wrong, but they know something’s wrong, because every minute I was just bursting into tears and didn’t know why.” 

According to the actor, she “got stuck in a mentality that even with success it was very hard for me to get out of.” She also said she had “guilt and shame that came with my success,” adding, “You have to leave so many people behind and that was depressing.”

Jada Pinkett Smith finally discovered the key to happiness when she was 47

Pinkett Smith explained how she tried medication and therapy but neither helped, sharing how she battled depression for years.

Of her “long journey” navigating her mental health, she said, “I just had to find my path, which is why it probably took as long as it did. Now, thankfully, I don’t get depressed. I also think that I had to uproot some false beliefs. I had to just let go and just come to terms with just what life is.”

During a 2019 interview on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert asked Pinkett Smith about how why she said she finally felt happy for the first time when she was 47-years-old.

She summed up the secret to her happiness succinctly, explaining, “I really thought happiness had a lot to do with pleasure, and I realized that happiness is about peace. I am the most peaceful I’ve ever been in my life, so I am the happiest.”