Jada Pinkett Smith Said She Was a Drug Dealer When She Met Tupac Shakur

Jada Pinkett Smith once shared the unique way her friendship with rapper Tupac Shakur began. 

Pinkett Smith and Shakur were friends long before either of them achieved fame through music and acting. They attended the Baltimore School for the Arts in the 1980s, where they honed their crafts. While Pinkett Smith and Shakur both had aspirations of being in the music industry, their humble beginnings could’ve derailed the success they eventually received.

Jada Pinkett Smith attends Sirius event
Jada Pinkett Smith|Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

 For Pinkett Smith, specifically, her life experiences inspired her to try to change Shakur’s ways before his untimely death in September 1996. 

Jada Pinkett Smith thought it was ‘kinda hard’ speaking about the real way she met Tupac Shakur

Pinkett Smith and Shakur rose to stardom several years after they met. Pinkett Smith landed several recurring roles on shows such as A Different World and movies like Menace II Society. Shakur released his first studio album, 2Pacalypse Now, in 1991, which catapulted his career. 

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Early in their careers, Pinkett Smith and Shakur discussed their friendship in multiple interviews. Pinkett Smith, however, never shared the true nature of how she met Shakur until a 2017 interview with Sway in the Morning. The actor revealed she was selling drugs while in high school when she and Shakur met. 

“It’s kinda hard because I haven’t really told the whole story,” Pinkett Smith said of meeting Shakur. “One of the things that’s very interesting that I’ve never really said before is that when I first met Pac when we first met, I was a drug dealer. Yes.”

Jada Pinkett Smith hoped Tupac Shakur would change his ways before he died

During the interview on Sway, Pinkett Smith also shared that Shakur’s lifestyle soon drove a wedge in their friendship. She had a negative experience that made her reevaluate the life she was leading. Pinkett Smith said when she stepped away from the drug-dealing life, Shakur was getting more involved in it. As Shakur gained notoriety, many events in his life kept him involved with violence, most notably his ongoing feud with Notorious B.I.G. The two rappers never squashed their beef, and both died due to gun violence. Pinkett Smith said she wanted her friend to change to a more positive lifestyle as she did.

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“There was a point in which we met and then we kind of were going our separate ways,”  Pinkett Smith said. “And I just felt like, ‘OK God, one day you’re going to do for Pac what you did for me, which is you saved me. And that just never happened for him. And so that is something that I am constantly having to confront.”

Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur were close friends

Pinkett Smith considered her friendship with Shakur as one based on “survival.” Their bond became a source of peace for Pinkett Smith as she began to develop a name for herself in Hollywood. During a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, she shared that Shakur pushed her to take her role in Menace II Society. Pinkett Smith also described their relationship as being “anchors” for each other on Red Table Talk

Tupac Shakur and Jada Pinkett Smith at an event
Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur|Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

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Pinkett Smith said she and Shakur had a heated fight before he died in a drive-by shooting in 1996. She said the exchange remains on her mind and teaches her an important lesson in her relationships moving forward. 

“It definitely taught me a lesson, which is life is too short,” Pinkett Smith said. “Do not let disagreements stand in between you and people that you love and care about.”