Will Smith & Jada Pinkett’s Marriage Timeline: Life Partners, Entanglements & Separation

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27th Annual Critics Choice Awards - Show
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)
From the set of "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" to the Oscars stage, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett's relationship has been filled with ups and downs.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett have been separated for seven years, apparently. The revelation emerged during Jada Pinkett’s press run in support of her upcoming memoir, Worthy. Speaking to Hoda Kotb, she confirmed that the two have been separated since 2016, although they never made their divorce official. Nonetheless, she said that they have the utmost love for each other and their children.

Of course, Jada Pinkett’s latest statements about her (estranged?) husband follow years of scrutiny surrounding their relationship. The couple made headlines when rumors of an open relationship surfaced. Then, there was the entanglement with August Alsina. In between that and the ongoing jokes involving her relationship with Tupac, it seemed to have all culminated in the infamous Oscars slap with Chris Rock, who allegedly tried to secure a date with Jada in the midst of divorce rumors. With the couple back in the headlines, we’re exploring their relationship since the couple first met in 1994. 

1994 - 1997: Will & Jada Make It Official

2/24/99 Los Angeles, CA. Jada Pinkett Smith with her husband, Will Smith at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards. (Ron Wolfson/Getty Images)

Will and Jada met on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Jada auditioned for a role on the show. Although she didn't get the part, they formed a close friendship. It wasn’t until 1995 that they entertained the possibility of a relationship. Will was still married to his then-wife and mother to his firstborn son, Trey, Sheree Zampino, although their relationship was on the rocks. 

“I had a realization I wasn’t with the person I was supposed to be with,” he said on a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk. “I was sitting in a [bathroom] stall and I was crying and laughing uncontrollably, and I knew [Jada] was the woman I was supposed to be with.”

After filing for divorce from Zampino, Jada and Will Smith took their relationship to new heights. The couple began dating, largely through Will’s efforts. Following his divorce, he asked Jada if she was “seeing anyone.” Once she said she wasn’t, Will said, “Cool, you’re seeing me now.”

Will reportedly popped the question while they were in bed together. However, it didn’t take long for the couple to get hitched. A month later, they tied the knot at a secret ceremony in a hotel room in Baltimore, Jada’s hometown. 

1998 - 2000: The Smith Family Expands

WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: (Clockwise) Actor Will Smith, son Trey, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow and son/actor Jaden Smith arrive at the World Premiere of Columbia Pictures' "The Pursuit of Happyness" at the Mann Village Theatre and Mann Bruin Theatre on December 7, 2006 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In a 1998 interview, Jada Pinkett revealed that they had been expecting their first child a day after their wedding. The couple welcomed Jaden Cyre Smith in July 1998. In the years that followed, Jaden proved to have a knack for the big screen, just like his parents, and similar to his father pursued a career in hip-hop.

Two years after the birth of Jaden, Will and Jada welcomed Willow to their family in October 2000. She similarly made a name for herself in the music industry, as an actress and a musician. These days, she often co-hosts Red Table Talk with her mother, Jada while also pursuing a successful career in music. 

2013: A Rumored Trouble In Paradise

While 13 years passed with little issues in their marriage, rumors of a shaky relationship began to surface in 2013. At that time, speculation surrounding an open marriage began to emerge. However, Jada denied this entirely during an appearance on HuffPost Live! but she said that she told Will he could “do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK.”

In a post shared on Facebook, she reiterated that they aren’t in an open marriage. “Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one,” she said.

2015: Will & Jada Pinkett Deny Getting A Divorce 

Two years later, the couple continued to face rumors of a divorce. Although we’d find on later on that there was some sort of validity to turmoil in their relationship, Will made it clear that a divorce wasn’t on the table. In a post shared to Facebook, he explained that he had received a number of messages from people sending their “deepest condolences,” so he decided to clear the air.

“So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness... Jada and I are...NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! : -) I promise you all - if I ever decide to divorce my Queen - I SWEAR I'll tell you myself! #‎Dumb People Should Have to Wear Scarlet D's,” he wrote.

2017: 20 Years Later

In Jada’s recent interview with Hoda Kobt, she explained that she and Will had been separated since 2016. However, the two continued to celebrate their marriage together in the public eye. In 2017, Will and Jada celebrated 20 years of marriage, which Will commemorated in a heartfelt Instagram post.

“20 Years Ago Today we held hands and walked naively down that aisle. Here’s what I’ve learned since,” he wrote. “Love is Like Gardening. I have learned to focus on HELPING you to BLOSSOM into what YOU want to be (into what you were born to be)… Rather than Demanding that you become what my Fragile Ego needs you to be.”

2018: No Longer “Married” But Life Partners

During an interview with Rap Radar, Will Smith provided more context to his relationship with Jada Pinkett. Although together for 20+ years, the rapper-turned-actor explained that they consider each other “life partners.” 

“​​We don’t even say we’re married anymore. We refer to ourselves as life partners,” he told Rap Radar. “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 till death, you know what I mean, and it feels so good to get to that space where you’re not complaining, and worrying, and demanding that a person be a certain thing.”

2020: The Entanglement Saga

at the 2017 BET Awards at Staples Center on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Life partners aside, the world was shocked to find out that Jada Pinkett Smith had a self-described “entanglement” with August Alsina. Jada revealed that the couple had been separated in 2016 and during that period, she and Alsina developed a strong bond. In the midst of this revelation, fans began pointing out videos and clips of Alsina hanging out with the Smith family.

During an episode of Red Table Talk, Will explained that he felt that their marriage needed to be tested at that point. “I wasn't sure I was ever going to speak to you again," Will said. "Like the fact that I'm speaking to you again is a miracle. [Marriage] ain't for the weak at heart. There's just certain things that you have to go through. I wish it could be all magic and miracles.”

2021: Will Contextualizes The Entanglement

Even though the majority of people felt as though the “entanglement” was a one-sided affair, Will revealed that “that was not... in fact the case,” per Wesley Lowrey’s GQ profile on the actor. He didn’t necessarily dive any further on the topic but in his memoir, Will, he said, “For the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection." He also explained that their marriage wasn’t working.

Later that year, Will sat down with Oprah Winfrey where he explained that they hit a rough patch in their relationship in 2011. It stemmed from a birthday surprise that he supposedly spent “years planning,” which Jada felt was a “ridiculous” self-serving act that put his ego on display.

2022: The Infamous Oscars Slap

At the 2022 Oscars, Will Smith famously slapped Chris Rock in the face after the comedian cracked a joke comparing Jada to G.I. Jane, only to find out that she was suffering from alopecia. “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see ya,” Chris said before Will stormed the stage and struck the comedian in the face. After heading back to his seat, Will told Chris: “Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!”

Even though it was an act of support for his wife, Will faced the worst of repercussions. He won the award for Best Actor – the first Oscar in his illustrious career – for King Richard before the Academy barred him from attending the ceremony for 10 years. While Will later apologized, the damage had been done and Twitter continued to pile onto Jada Pinkett.

2023: Separated

Through the ups and downs of their relationship in the years prior, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that she and Will had been separated for roughly seven years. In her book Worthy, she dives further into the topic but the announcement first came during a preview of her sit down with Hoda Kotb. Although Jada said that it wasn’t a “divorce on paper,” the couple was “exhausted with trying.” However, she vowed never to get a divorce. “We will work through ... whatever," she explained. "I just haven’t been able to break that promise,"

In an interview with People, she added that she and Will are still working on their relationship. “We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together,” she told PEOPLE. “We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us.”

About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.