Jada Pinkett Smith Once Shared Her Role in ‘Madagascar’ Made up for Horrible ‘Lion King’ Audition

Jada Pinkett Smith once starred in the popular DreamWorks animated kids series Madagascar. But years before featuring in the hit franchise, she tried to star in another animated film about animals in The Lion King. According to Smith, starring in Madagascar made up for her Lion King audition, which she found embarrassing.

Jada Pinkett Smith was disappointed with her kid’s reaction to her playing a Hippo

Jada Pinkett Smith posing while wearing a brown dress.
Jada Pinkett Smith | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Jada Pinkett Smith’s kids were some of her main motivations for starring in the 2005 animated feature. But she also did the film for the kid in her too.

“I do it for my kids, but if I was a bit more aware, I probably would do it for the child within me. I don’t know if I’m that aware,” Smith once told Girl. “I probably need to do something like this for the child within me.”

Initially, her kids had a disappointing reaction to their mother starring in the film as the Hippo Gloria. If only because she wanted to surprise them with the role. But Jaden and Willow Smith were able to recognize their mother immediately.

“They actually told me, I didn’t say anything. They saw a clip of Madagascar on a video and said, ‘mommy you are playing a hippo?’ I was like damn it. I was trying to wait and make it a surprise, so they are very excited. I told them I was coming here today and they thought that we were having the premier and they were all upset,” she once told Black Film.

‘Madagascar’ made up for Jada Pinkett Smith’s embarrassing ‘Lion King’ audition

One of the reasons Smith was so interested in joining the feature was to make up for missing out on The Lion King. In a resurfaced interview, she once confided that she auditioned for the Oscar-winning feature, only for the audition to go terribly.

“I once auditioned for Simba’s mother in The Lion King. And I was absolutely horrible. I had no idea what I was doing. I made myself sound like a lion because I had no idea I could use my own voice. I felt I need to do this [Madagascar] to make up for that faux pas in my career,” Smith once told The Daily Telegraph (via Female First).

To nab her animated role in Madagascar, Smith felt she learned something that might have helped her win Lion King years earlier.

“I think you almost have to become a child to act like this. You have to use your imagination in a different way, and think what the place looks like in your scene. In this movie, for instance, we’re at the circus. You have to let go all that seriousness of being an adult,” she added.

Jada Pinkett Smith on her reaction to being asked to play a Hippo

Speaking to Hollywood, The Matrix Reloaded star was asked if whether or not she felt insulted playing a Hippo in the franchise. But Smith reassured there was no offense taken in being offered the part.

“It never occurred to me when Jeffrey [Katzenberg] showed me the picture of Gloria that, yeah, she’s a hippo. I’m playing a character, you know. I thought she’s adorable, you know, so it just never occurred to me there was something I should be like,” she said.

In fact, there were certain things about the character that reminded her of her own life.

“For Gloria, I really liked how maternal she was. She’s kind of like a mama that has a tough-love approach, but still very sweet. I really liked she was so maternal,” Smith explained.

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