US actor Will Smith(L) and Jada Pinkett Smithattend the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywoo...

Jada Pinkett Smith Reveals She Has Been Separated From Will Smith Since 2016

“I think we were both stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

Originally Published: 

Jada Pinkett Smith recently revealed that she and husband Will Smith have been living separately for seven years. According to the actress, the pair are not linked romantically and have not been since 2016. The mom of two addressed the separation, and the couple’s decision to keep it a secret, in an interview with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb as well as in her new memoir, Worthy.

The timing of their separation is interesting, particularly considering some of the very public moments they have shared as a couple in recent years. Pinkett Smith’s three year “entanglement” with rapper August Alsina from 2017 to 2020, for example, which the couple discussed very publicly during a 2020 episode of the Red Table Talk. And of course, if the couple were separated in 2016, this means they were no longer together when Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face at the 2022 Oscars and told him to keep “my wife’s name” out of his mouth.

Pinkett Smith, who shares 25-year-old son Jaden and 22-year-old daughter Willow with the I Am Legend actor, opened up to Kotb about their separation, explaining that they weren’t “ready yet” to tell the world they were no longer together during either of those very public moments. “[We were] still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership, right, and in regards to how do we present that to people,” she said during the TODAY interview. “And we hadn’t figured that out.”

When asked why the couple had initially decided to separate 19 years after marrying in 1997, Pinkett Smith told Kotb that it was “a lot of things, and I think by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying. I think we were both stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

Pinkett Smith went on to explain that the couple has not actually divorced because she “made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through whatever. And I just haven’t been able to break that promise.”

As for her reaction to the Oscars slap, Pinkett Smith wrote in her memoir Worthy, per People, that she initially thought it was a skit. “When Chris was still standing afterward, I believed my observation to be true: Aha, this IS a skit,” she writes in her memoir, going on to add, “It’s not until Will yells from his seat back up at Chris to ‘keep my wife’s name out your f---in’ mouth,’ and then repeats it, that I perceive the gravity of the situation, and that, no, it had not been a skit. Even so, I am unclear on the reason why Will is so upset. We had been living separate lives and were there as family, not as husband and wife. But when I hear Will yell ‘wife’ in the chaos of the moment, an internal shift of Oh s--- . . . I am his wife! happens instantly.”

Will Smith has not yet publicly commented on the couple’s longtime separation.

This article was originally published on