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The first thing you notice about Jada Pinkett is her long, curved, scarlet-enameled fingernails—“ghetto Vogue,” she calls them, laughing. Describing her meteoric ascent from the Baltimore School of Arts (where her best homie was Tupac Shakur) to overnight Tinseltown success. Pinkett coos for a few moments over her continuing romance with former Duke star hoopster/future NBA player Grant Hill, and those acrylic claws click like miniature castanets.
With close-cropped hair and a pearly smile, the tiny, gamine Pinkett is even prettier in person than she was as Lena in A Different World or as Ronnie in Menace II Society. Her compelling feature film debut as the heroic teenage single mom at the center of Menace’s world of adolescent violence and moral indifference catapulted the 22-year-old actress to the top of Black Hollywood’s A-list and into starring roles in three major movies this year.
Those nails actually belong to Peaches, Pinkett’s loud-mouthed, sassy character in Keenen Ivory Wayans’s A Low Down Dirty Shame (tentatively due this fall). Peaches brings Pinkett a sharp 180 degrees from Menace’s serious, responsible Ronnie. Her performances as Lauren, the upper-middle-class BAP brat in Matty Rich’s The Inkwell “who only worries about boys spending money on her,” and as Lyric, a fragile rural rose blooming from the dusty back roads of a Houston ghetto in Doug McHenry’s Jason’s Lyric (due in November), showcase her range further still.
The challenge of playing four radically different roles back-to-back could unsettle a young film newcomer, but Pinkett’s characters are always grounded in her own sometimes difficult life experience. “Ronnie is very close to my mother; she graduated high school with me in her tummy,” Pinkett says. “Lauren was also familiar because my Jamaican grandmother raised me in that upper-middle-class background before she died.” That loss and the divorce of her parents (both substance abusers at the time) plunged 13-year-old Pinkett into a very different world, one she says equipped her at age 18 for the Hollywood jungle—and for a character like Peaches. “I have a really obnoxious nature,” she admits, laughing. “I can get stank sometimes, all attitude and just being forward with it.” In contrast, she says, “playing Lyric allowed me for the first time to be loving, vulnerable—to let the walls down and say, ’Here I am.’”
The self-confident Pinkett, who counsels troubled teens across the country in her spare time, seems particularly savvy about her career. “I’m extremely lucky not to have been typecast, even though I’ve done only black films by black filmmakers,” she says. “It’s not, ‘Let’s get Jada for the homegirl and blasie-blah.’ That leaves my opening to grow.”
Five people have been arrested in connection with the murder of Pop Smoke, the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division revealed on Friday (July 10). According to an LAPD news release, the suspects include two teenagers and three adults, the latter of whom were identified as Corey Walker, 19, Jaquan Murphy, 21, and Keandre D. Rodgers, 18.
The LAPD claims that the suspects are gang members who were involved in Jackson’s murder in February, and in the murder of an 18-year-old victim who was gunned down last year in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
No other details were released as both investigations are ongoing.
Pop Smoke, whose birth name was Bashar Jackson, was gunned down at a temporary rental home in the Hollywood Hills while visiting Los Angeles. The 20-year-old Brooklyn native was the victim of an armed robbery, per the LAPD.
As promised, Jada Pinkett Smith brought herself to the infamous red table but she wasn’t alone. Will Smith joined his wife to address August Alsina’s claims in a special mini-episode of Red Table Talk that premiered on Friday (July 10).
Jada confirmed that she was once in a relationship with the 27-year-old singer while “separated” from Will. According to Jada, things with Alsina started out as a platonic friendship before turning into something more.
“As time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August,” she admitted.
The actress went on to clarify that Will never August “permission” to date her. “The only person that can give permission in that particular circumstance is myself,” she said. “I could see how he would perceive it as ‘permission' because we were separated amicably and I think he also wanted to make it clear that he’s not a home wrecker — which he’s not.
“I was in a lot of pain. I was broken. I definitely realized that you can’t find happiness outside of yourself, and luckily enough, you and I were going through a process of healing in a much different manner,” Jada told Will. “I would definitely say we did everything we could to get away from each other only to realize that that wasn’t possible.”
Later in the talk, Will asked Jada what she was looking for in August. “I just wanted to feel good,” she said. “And it was really a joy just to heal somebody.”
The couple, who have been together for 25 years, also revealed their relationship mantra: “We ride together. We die together. Bad marriage for life.”
Watch the full episode below.