Jada Pinkett Smith Talks Vulnerability’s Superpower And ‘Red Table Talk’
Since the 2018 debut of Red Table Talk on Facebook Watch, the award-winning actress, her daughter/musician Willow Smith, and mother Adrienne Banfield Norris have precisely uprooted real-life topics but through the interpretation of that four-letter word. From body image to friendship to sex, Red Table Talk’s versatility allows Pinkett Smith and her family the ability to approach moments in their own journey or their guests’ without alienating one’s thoughts or beliefs.
Amassing nearly seven million followers on Facebook, Red Table Talk kicks off each work week with a 30-minute or less episode that encourages guests to lay their thoughts on the surface while talking through life’s thickest obstacles. During Monday’s edition (Nov. 4), actress Demi Moore and her daughters Rumer and Tallulah Willis off-loaded recollections outlined within the matriarch’s new memoir, Inside Out. Instances of addiction, relapse, loneliness, and reconciliation are addressed. But when it was time to part ways, one gem remained with Pinkett Smith, a realization that she believes can be applied to families that identify with her understanding.
“During the Demi Moore episode I got very clear on why parent to child conversations are very difficult to have and that is because your child is a mirror of you in a certain manner,” Pinkett Smith tells VIBE. “So if you haven’t reconciled certain aspects of your own journey, it’s going to be very difficult for you to relive that journey within your children and it’s inevitable that you will.”
In the span of 10-minutes, Jada Pinkett Smith discusses how vulnerability is a superpower, providing a safe place for Moore and her daughters to uncover sheltered moments, and analyzing pain passed from parent to child.
VIBE: What made you decide to reach out to Demi Moore and what was it about her story that made you extend an invitation to her and her daughters to come to the red table?
Jada Pinkett Smith: Her team called us to have her come to the table to talk about her book. I read her book and the most interesting aspect of her book for me was the effects of generational trauma: her relationship with her mother, how that affected her and how her trauma from her mother and her addiction affected her kids. I asked her team if she’d be willing to come to the table with her children and she agreed. To me, the passing of pain from parent to child is something I’m deeply interested in, and even in my own family and in my own healing process, that is something we’re dealing with as far as generational trauma.
When it’s time to unwind, turn off the lights and go to sleep, how do you unload some of the experiences you’ve encountered from Red Table Talk? Even as it pertains to Demi Moore, meaning her discussing addiction, motherhood, her upbringing with her mom and how it has affected her daughters? How do you unpack talking through certain traumas with your guests?
So you’re asking how do I approach the conversation?
Yes and the aftermath.
The aftermath when I’m alone, the alone part is easy (Laughs) because I go into meditation, just chill and go to sleep. But as far as the start of the conversation, it’s just really about starting from a place of reality that we share. How I started the conversation off was why I wanted to do the Red Table with her and how our journeys are very similar. That’s usually the entry point. I’m either going to start with an acknowledgment or I’m going to start with a reality that we share.
Within that episode, you mentioned vulnerability and how it isn’t safe but from watching a few episodes this season, in my opinion, it looks as if vulnerability is a bit of ease.
What I was saying was that from our past what we were taught was that vulnerability wasn’t safe but I can totally see how you would misunderstand that because it seemed as though I was talking in the present time. But I was saying that Demi and I didn’t see vulnerability as safe but as we are developing in our adulthood and starting to unpack our past, we’re starting to realize that our softness and our vulnerability is actually the key to everything. As Demi said, we have to show our kids our weakness and I wouldn’t call it a weakness because I actually look at vulnerability as a strength. I was talking about how in the past we didn’t see vulnerability as safe.
Do you feel Red Table Talk has the ability to make vulnerability be seen as a strength?
Hopefully, I’m definitely wanting vulnerability to be looked at as a necessity and having healthy relationships, for sure.
There were several instances in the episode with Ms. Moore that stood out to me, one being a quote from Tullulah Willis where she said she doesn’t think her mom was made, she was forged. I wanted to gather your thoughts on that statement because it seemed as if it resonated with everyone in the room.
I think that resonated with the girls because Willow mentioned that she felt the same way. I guess that would be a question for them in regard to why they looked it in that way. I just took it as part of their reality that we weren’t raised, we were forged because we didn’t really have the maternal...our mothers were more sisters than they were mothers so you were kind of thrown into the fire and you had to figure it out. I got that they understood that we didn’t get the mothering and the raising that maybe they did.
In the episode with Wale, before the conversation began, he complimented you, your mother Ms. Norris, and Willow. Then he said the red table is glowing. What is it about the color red that brings about that aura, what does it symbolize?
It symbolizes love, life force because it’s the color of blood. It symbolizes purification because it’s the color of fire.
What is it about timing or what inspired you to go forth with Red Table Talk? What is it about this moment in your life that makes it feel this was the right decision knowing that it not only impacts you and your family but also millions of viewers?
I just felt like it was good timing for my mother, myself, and Willow. In regards to culture, it was a good time as well. Black culture and culture in general, because I felt like there’s so much judgment out there. There’s not really a lot of safe places to have real conversations and I felt like it was time to have someplace where you could have a safe place for real conversations.
I remember when you three first started off, it was just you three. You all discussed motherhood and body image and friendships and sex, but with certain families, some are open to discuss anything and others aren’t. However, you three make it look like the norm and that it’s okay to address unconventional or unique thoughts that some families shy away from.
For us, we’re trying to normalize real conversations, (laughs) right? So that they’re not seemingly so taboo because that’s the conversations that we need to have in order to have meaningful healthier lives, emotionally.
What’s one gem that you unexpectedly picked up from a guest that has stayed with you or a revelation that hit you during a Red Table Talk that you’ve carried with you?
During the Demi Moore episode, I got very clear on why parent to child conversations are very difficult to have and that is because your child is a mirror of you in a certain manner. So if you haven’t reconciled certain aspects of your own journey, it’s going to be very difficult for you to relive that journey within your children and it’s inevitable that you will. I think that that’s what makes parent to child communication and experiences sometimes complex, but I did see that clearly through listening to Tallulah, Rumer and Demi and reflecting on my own experiences with my mother and daughter.
Catch new episodes of Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris every Monday at 9:00 a.m. PT / 12:00 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.