Will Smith Had a Nervous Breakdown After He First Met Jada Pinkett Smith

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been an item since 1995. Married in 1997, their relationship has been as entertaining as their movies, especially since they share so much. Now, Will is sharing just how he felt after meeting Jada for the first time, and it was intense. He describes it as a nervous breakdown in his new autobiography, Will.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith sit together at the 1999 Grammy Awards
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith | Ron Wolfson/Getty Images

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had several near misses

The timeline gets confusing, but Will remembers first seeing Jada at her audition for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That would have been around 1994 since she didn’t get the role of Will’s girlfriend. He also mentions going to a taping of A Different World to meet her, but that show ended in 1993. 

By the time Will and Jada finally met properly, Will was already married to Sheree Zampino. Will describes going to a lounge with friends, one of whom brought Jada. That’s where they really connected, but by then Will was trying to save his marriage. 

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“We talked about everything – she could meet me, ascend, and elaborate on all topics and subjects, from Tupac to apartheid, from college basketball to Ganesh and eastern mysticism,” he wrote. “It was like we went away to a private place alone, content to embrace the joy of our questions, unburdened by the quest for answers. Being together was the answer.” 

Will Smith didn’t feel well after meeting Jada Pinkett Smith 

Will met Zampino, at a restaurant. They had already had their son, Trey, who was staying with Zampino’s mother while they talked. 

“Everything was perfectly pleasant, but suddenly I started to feel light-headed,” he wrote. “There was a weird, dry, metallic taste forming in my mouth. I tried to breathe through it. I was thinking, Oh sh*t, am I about to pass out?”

Zampino did express concern for her husband. At first, Smith tried to play it off and excused himself to the bathroom.

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“A surging wave of dizziness, a shortness of breath, beads of sweat jumping up on my forehead…,” he wrote. 

A full on nervous breakdown 

At the time, Smith did not understand his own reactions. He locked himself in a bathroom stall trying to compose himself.

“I sat down to try to catch my breath – What the hell is happening?” he wrote. I suddenly burst into tears. For the next twenty minutes, I purged, toggling back and forth between sobbing and laughing hysterically. Am I having a f*cking nervous breakdown?”

It ultimately dawned on him that he was feeling this way because his heart belonged to another. Yet, he was not the type to accept defeat.

“And slowly, my emotional truth came into vivid, three-dimensional clarity,” he wrote. “I knew with absolute certainty that Jada Pinkett was the woman of my dreams. But I had committed my life before God to Sheree. And there was no version of me ever going back on my word. My tears were railing against the harshness of this reality. And my laughter was cursing its absurdity.”