Jada Pinkett Smith’s Birthday Party Forced Her and Will Smith to Separate

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been married for more than two decades. In that time, the two have lost each other — and found each other once more. Pinkett and Smith have since opened up on “Red Table Talk” about the difficulties during their marriage — but the worst of it started at Pinkett’s 40th birthday party.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Will Smith became obsessed with creating a perfect image for his family

When Smith and Pinkett started dating, he had recently divorced from his first wife, Sheree Zampino. Smith didn’t believe in divorce (Zampino had been the one to file), and when he and Pinkett got married, his movie career was just starting to take off. From there, he wanted to create the image of a perfect family. He became “obsessed” with painting a certain public picture for his family, suggesting they never ran into problems. But underneath, things were starting to unravel.

“I was much more conscious of public perception than Jada,” Smith revealed on an episode of “Red Table Talk.” Pinkett said she was “trying to live up to an idea” of the wife Smith had created in his mind, rather than being herself. And his relationship with his kids saw problems, too. Smith and his oldest son, Trey, were estranged for most of Trey’s childhood. And Willow was tired of her father forcing her into the spotlight. After her “Whip My Hair” success, Willow shaved her head in protest.

Will and Jada Smith with Trey, Jaden, and Willow Smith
Will and Jada Smith with Trey, Jaden, and Willow Smith | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

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Smith admitted he threw his wife a birthday party where he could shine

The two revealed that Pinkett’s 40th birthday party back in 2011, which was thrown by Smith, was the breaking point in their marriage that led them to separate. “She told me that the party was the most ridiculous display of my ego,” Smith said on “Red Table Talk.”

Smith also revealed that the party was his “low point” in the couple’s relationship, and that he “cried so hard” afterward because of how poorly the couple’s marriage was doing. “To this day I know I was crushed because it was true,” he said of Pinkett’s comments about his ego. Smith went on to say that Pinkett’s birthday “wasn’t a party for her.” Ultimately, the event caused the couple to re-evaluate their marriage, which led to their separation.

Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith needed time apart from Will Smith to find her own happiness. | Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Pinkett has vowed to do her next 40 years ‘my way’

Pinkett said the party essentially forced her to take a deeper look at her relationship and have “the courage” to say no to her husband. “I had to have the courage to unravel [the marriage],” she added. “This next 40, I gotta do it my way.”

Smith said the realization that his marriage was a façade was “devastating,” and Pinkett once also noted that because of Smith’s attempt to paint the picture-perfect family, her life had become “constricted.” The couple took time apart, during which Pinkett had an affair with August Alsina. But the separation actually did wonders for their marriage. Today, they consider speaking openly about their marriage to be part of the “healing” process, and the two have vowed to never get a divorce.