Jada Pinkett Smith broke her silence on The Slap
She took a moment during an emotional Red Table Talk episode on alopecia to address the Oscars incident.
With the amount of drama and jokes that surfaced from Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, and the openness Jada Pinkett has exhibited on her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk, many viewers have waited months to hear what she would say about the viral incident. And while the accomplished actress did use a new episode of the show to briefly comment on the altercation, she had much more to say about an issue that hits close to home for her: alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that leads to hair loss.
“This is a really important Red Table Talk on alopecia. Considering what I’ve been through with my own health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands have reached out to me with their stories,” Pinkett Smith says at the top of the episode. “I’m using this moment to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to inform people about what alopecia actually is.”
She then commented on the slap: “Now about Oscar night, my deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out, and reconcile. The state of the world today, we need them both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening.”
Will Smith slapped Rock onstage in March after taking exception to the comedian’s low-brow joke about her wife’s shaved head, a result of her struggle with the disease. “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth,” Smith yelled toward Rock after returning to his seat. The slap was arguably the biggest moment in pop culture all year, with celebrities, comedians, and everyone else weighing in; eventually, Smith resigned from the Academy, and the Academy banned him from any event for 10 years. But this week, Jada Pinkett Smith has spoken up to give her perspective.
In the candid episode, Pinkett Smith sat down with her daughter, Willow, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, to discuss her experience with the condition. She reveals the anxiety that living with alopecia produces, constantly wondering,“what’s my hair going to look like today?” as patches grow and fall out without warning. She also showed footage of what she called “alopecia scarring” across her head. She pointed out that there are 147 million people living with the illness, and the episode was meant to shine a light on an issue that people don’t talk about because “there’s so much shame around it.” She added, “There’s so many people walking around with alopecia that we don’t even know.”
The three hosts then tearfully introduce Niki Ball, the mother of 12-year-old Rio Allred. Allred developed alopecia, and after constant bullying at school, devastatingly died by suicide in March of this year. Ball remembered her daughter as “So smart, just brilliant. She was funny, a great big sister, she loved reading, and writing, and sketching, and she loved being in the band. ... And with the hair loss, she was so strong.” Ball remembered the courage that Rio met the condition with, only to have her wig ripped off of her head at school and be called terrible names. The hosts played a montage of members of the alopecia community sending messages of love and solidarity to the family. The episode went on to include a surgeon who described the different types of alopecia, as well as a woman who worked in the hair industry for a decade, Gina Knight, who recently penned an essay for New York Magazine on her experience with alopecia. The emotional episode ended with former NBA player Charlie Villanueva discussing his journey with the illness.
As the drama from the incident continues to wind down, hopefully, tools like Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk episode can lead to more information and empathy around alopecia.