Will Smith’s Ex-Wife Changed Jada Pinkett Smith’s Life

Jada Pinkett Smith married Will Smith back in 1997, though she never fully wanted to go through with a wedding. But Pinkett wasn’t Smith’s first bride. The actor was actually married to Sheree Zampino for a few years, though the two divorced shortly before he and Pinkett began dating. And, surprisingly, Pinkett has said that she is “so grateful” that Zampino is in her life.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith | Ron Wolfson/WireImage

Will Smith and Sheree Zampino divorced in 1995

Though Smith fell in love with his first wife, he never set out to marry her. According to The Washington Post, Smith was filming Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Pinkett caught his eye. She was starring on A Different World, and Smith was desperate to meet her. He and his co-star, Alfonso Rubiero, attended a taping of A Different World with the hope that Smith and Pinkett would get together, but instead, he met Zampino.

Smith and Zampino hit it off quickly, and they were married in 1992. Shortly after, they welcomed their first son, Trey Smith. Once Will Smith and Pinkett finally met, he firmly believed he had married the wrong woman, but he didn’t believe in divorcing Zampino. Eventually, Zampino pulled the plug on the marriage, and it gave Smith and opportunity to be with Pinkett.

Will Smith and Sheree Zampino
Will Smith and Sheree Zampino | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Pinkett has said she is ‘so grateful’ that Zampino is in her life

Pinkett and Smith started dating almost immediately after Smith and Zampino split, and they were married within about two years. But Pinkett revealed on “Red Table Talk” that things with Zampino didn’t start out well. “The beginning between us was rough,” she admitted, according to The Washington Post, but in a discussion with Zampino, the two women opened up, and it’s clear they now have a strong relationship.

“When Will and I first started dating, I had this thing in mind. I was like, ‘Well you did that, and that’s done,’” Pinkett said, referring to the exes’ divorce. “I had this fantasy in mind; I’m like, ‘Oh, man, we’re going to be one big happy family… And Trey, this is going to be seamless for him,’” Pinkett continued. But she said that “it wasn’t” seamless for Trey, and that it was “difficult” to work through it all.

Still, Pinkett Smith and Zampino are now on good terms more than 20 years later, and the families have good relationships. Plus, Pinkett credits Zampino for changing her life for the better. She said Zampino “has really been one of the main people in my life that has forced me to expand in a way that was beyond anything I imagined, and I’m so grateful.”

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Pinkett never wanted to get married

Pinkett and Smith are life partners who are in it for the long haul. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t had their share of ups and downs — starting with their wedding. Pinkett had never planned on getting married (to anyone, not just Smith), but when she learned she was pregnant with Smith’s child, her mother encouraged her to tie the knot.

“I went crying down the freaking aisle, getting married,” Pinkett revealed on a “Red Table Talk” episode. Now, she and Smith only refer to themselves as life partners rather than husband and wife.