Will Smith, 52, and Jada Pinkett Smith, 49, have proven time and again that love can last in Hollywood. The two have been together since the ’90s, and today, December 31, marks their 23rd wedding anniversary. On any given red carpet, they nearly always turn heads. But it’s taken years of love, trust and hard work for the two to maintain their bond while standing in the spotlight. We’re taking a look back at their early years together to today on their milestone anniversary!
Meeting At An AuditionWhat’s more Hollywood than meeting at an audition? Will and Jada first met when the actress auditioned to play Will’s girlfriend on the popular ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Unfortunately, Jada never got the role, which ended up going to Nia Long. But Will was nevertheless taken by Jada’s talent and beauty.
Wedding Bells On New Year’s EveUpon realizing his attraction, Will made the decision to not pursue Jada. He was, at the time, still involved with his first wife, Sheree Zampino, although the pair had hit a rough patch in their marriage. By the time Sheree and Will decided to breakup, Will was ready to pursue Jada, who moved from her native Baltimore to California. The pair started dating following Will’s 1995 divorce and married on December 31, 1997 at a hotel in Jada’s hometown.
Starting A FamilyIt wasn’t long after Will and Jada said ‘I do’ that they began to expand their family. The couple’s son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, was born on July 8, 1998. Roughly two years later, Will and Jada welcomed their daughter Willow Camille Reign Smith on October 31, 2000. Jada is also the step-mother to Will’s son from his first marriage, Willard Carroll “Trey” Smith III. The family have such a united front, and both Willow and Jaden have worked with their parents in the past!
Jaden played the son of Will’s character in the Oscar-nominated film The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006 and After Earth in 2013. Willow appeared as Will’s character’s daughter in the 2007 film I Am Legend. Willow is also the co-host of Red Table Talk with Jada and Jada’s mom, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
A Decade Of LoveBy 2007, Will and Jada celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Not only was it a major milestone for the couple, it was also huge for a couple in Hollywood to last for that long! But Will and Jada proved how united they were and how supportive they continue to be of each other’s careers. Of course, some have often scrutinized the couple’s relationship, and the two have opened up about what makes their marriage work.
Setting The Record Straight“I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay,'” Jada explained during a HuffPost Live interview from 2013. “Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
But even Will has admitted that there were times that he wasn’t doing enough for the couple’s marriage in the past. “There was a period where mommy woke up and cried 45 days straight. I started keeping a diary,” Will told Willow during an October 2018 episode of Red Table Talk. “It was every morning. I think that’s the worst I’ve ever felt in our marriage. I was failing miserably.”
The ‘Entanglement’ StoryIn July 2020, Will and Jada went on Red Table Talk to have a conversation about Jada’s alleged relationship with August Alsina. Jada confirmed that she was caught-up in an “entanglement” with the young singer, and it left a major impact on her marriage to Will. “I really felt like we could be over,” Will confessed. “We came together young,” said Will, “and we were both broken in our own ways, and to be able to make mistakes without the fear of losing your family is so critical,” he continued.
For her part, Jada admitted that “one of the things that I’m deeply grateful in this whole process between you and I is that we have really gotten to that new place of unconditional love.” Will, however, admitted that he “wasn’t sure I was ever going to speak to you again.” The two, however, worked on their marriage and relationship. “The fact that I’m speaking to you again is a miracle.”
To that end, Jada couldn’t have agreed more. “You gotta go through some sh-t to get the answers. I’m just happy because I definitely believe you and I never ever, ever thought we’d make it back.”
Moving ForwardThroughout their decades-long relationship, Will and Jada have really beaten the odds. They have stood by each other’s side through thick and thin, and will likely continue to do so well into the future. The couple has even gotten to a place where they define their romance far beyond what marriage means.
“We don’t even say we’re married anymore,” Will said on a July 2018 episode of TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast. “We refer to ourselves as ‘life partners,’ where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life. There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do—ever—nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support ’til death, and it feels so good to get to that space.”
Will’s New Memoir
Will opened up about some of the difficulties that he and Jada faced early on in his new memoir, fittingly titled Will, which was released November 9. The I Am Legend star admitted that the pair had problems in their relationship, partially due to marrying young. He said that the couple were “suffering the brutal death of our romantic fantasies, the burning away of the idealistic illusion of the perfect marriage and the perfect family,” but neither wanted to divorce.
In the book, Will admitted that the two realized that they “were two separate people on two independent, individual journeys.” After tears and hugs, the pair decided that each had to take their own happiness into their own hands. “We agreed that Jada’s happiness had to be her responsibility, and my happiness had to be my responsibility. We were going to seek our distinct, innermost personal joys, and then we were going to return and present ourselves to the relationship and to each other already happy—not coming to each other begging with empty cups, demanding the other person fulfill our needs. We felt that this vampiric relational model was unfair, unrealistic, destructive—even abusive. To place the responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery,” he wrote.