When Will Smith hit Chris Rock after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s bald head at the Oscars, she assumed it was part of a skit.
In her new memoir “Worthy,” Pinkett Smith reflects on the night of the infamous incident, including the moment she understood the gravity of the situation when Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Several people checked in on Pinkett Smith at every commercial break, she recalls, including Lupita Nyong’o, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Ramsey Naito, Tiffany Haddish and Queen Latifah. When the show cut to the first commercial after the slap, Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper went to Smith and “huddled up, trying to ground him.”
The Oscars slap, however, is only a 14-page chapter in Pinkett Smith’s tell-all memoir. From Tupac Shakur‘s marriage proposal to her views on Scientology, here are the 10 biggest anecdotes from Pinkett Smith’s “Worthy” — now available to purchase.
1. Pinkett Smith almost didn’t attend the 2022 Academy Awards because Chris Rock was a presenter
In the penultimate chapter of her memoir titled “The Holy Joke, the Holy Slap and Holy Lessons,” Pinkett Smith reveals that she was hesitant about attending the Oscars ceremony with Smith after learning that Rock would be a presenter.
“He had been known to take swipes at me — and from the Oscar stage, no less,” she writes.
In 2015, advocate April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite after the Academy awarded all 20 acting nominations to white performers. Rock was set to host the ceremony.
Pinkett Smith released a video in January 2016 calling for people of color to boycott the Oscars, admitting that she didn’t take into consideration “how Chris, as a Black male host that year, would be affected or the pressure he would be under.”
She continues, “Nor did I imagine that he would take offense to a question I posed in a video I made — as whether we should continue to support the Oscars that weren’t consistently celebrating talent of color.”
Pinkett Smith also reveals that “there had been decades of disrespect between Will and Chris — starting in the late 1980s, before either of them even knew I existed.”
At the 2016 Oscars, Rock targeted both Pinkett Smith and Smith in his opening monologue, saying at one point, “Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, ‘Ain’t she on a TV show?’ Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited! Oh, that’s not an invitation I would turn down!”
Although Rock and Pinkett Smith apologized to each other in the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite ceremony and hadn’t spoken in the next six years, she “immediately felt a trainwreck coming” when the comedian appeared on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards.
“I told myself, ‘A lot of time has passed, it’s the Academy Awards, there are no new misunderstandings, and I’m sure he’ll play nice,’” Pinkett Smith writes. “But another thought was ‘he’s not going to be able to help himself.’”
2. Tupac Shakur proposed to Pinkett Smith from prison
Pinkett Smith’s longtime friend, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, proposed to her while he was incarcerated at Rikers Island in 1995. The two were in close communication, often speaking on the phone or sending letters to each other.
Pinkett Smith shares an excerpt from Shakur’s letter, dated Feb. 2/3, which reads: “Now as I have slipped from grace and the world has turned against me, a few claim to have love 4 me but once again you show me your love. After deep reflection and spiritual awakening, I have come to realize the friend, lover and soulmate was there all the time. I have not seen myself or felt from anywhere or anyone the intensity and loyalty that you have shown me.”
“That was why, he concluded, ‘I want to commit myself to you.’ That was why, he repeated, ‘I want to marry you,’” she continues.
While contemplating the idea of marrying Shakur, Pinkett Smith asked him if he was expecting conjugal visits, to which he responded yes.
“Pac was expecting me to be not just a psychological wife but a physical wife,” she writes. “I couldn’t do it.”
After having a series of difficult conversations about his proposal, Pinkett Smith says they “got to a place of acceptance” and she realized “Pac wanted me as a wife to get him through his jail sentence, but not for a lifetime.”
“He didn’t know that then, not while he was behind bars, but I promise you, once he got out of jail, he was glad he didn’t marry me.”
3. Pinkett Smith explains her relationship with Scientology, including enrolling her biological father in Narconon
Pinkett Smith addresses the controversy surrounding her connection to Scientology, including how she and Smith homeschooled their children with fundamentals tied to the religion.
“Some of the controversy about my approach to education probably had to do with the use of the Study Technology learning method that I’d discovered when I was introduced to Scientology,” she writes. “Study Tech, although it came from Scientology, is legally defined as secular.”
As someone who has studied multiple religions and has had experiences at the Ethical Society, Pinkett Smith explains, she “didn’t hold the same stigma around the Church of Scientology that most do.”
“I was very clear when I stepped into the Church of Scientology that becoming a member would not be possible, nor was it my goal. My goal was to embrace the Basic Study Manual to educate myself about a method of learning.”
She also enrolled her biological father Robisol in Narconon, a rehabilitation program that utilizes techniques developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
“Rob was very clear that Narconon had saved his life when we all believed there was no hope, which was why he kept going further into his studies in Scientology,” she explains.
However, her father eventually stopped his studies after he learned that some of their spiritual beliefs conflicted with his own. Pinkett Smith’s Scientology studies “came to an end soon after.”
4. Pinkett Smith met Smith for the first time after auditioning for a guest-star role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
After auditioning for a guest-star role on the second season of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which she claims she didn’t book due to her height, Pinkett Smith ran into Smith while coming out of the casting office.
“Our exchange was hardly memorable. ‘What’s up?’ he asked with a cheerful grin.”
“‘What’s up?’ I asked in response, not giving him the time of day, and kept moving.”
The next time she saw Smith was at the Bullock’s department store in downtown L.A., where she was shopping with her mother.
“My mom said, ‘Why can’t you be with somebody nice, like him?’” writes Pinkett Smith, to which she replied, “The Fresh Prince?”
5. Smith had his grandmother watch “Jason’s Lyric” before introducing her to Pinkett Smith, which features a sex scene involving Pinkett Smith’s character
Before arriving at Smith’s house to meet his grandmother Gigi for the first time, Smith decided to have a little viewing party of Pinkett Smith’s 1994 film “Jason’s Lyric,” which “included a very naked sex scene in the woods (where I had a body double, as I adamantly didn’t do nudity).”
“Just imagine, I’m meeting my new boyfriend’s beloved grandmother for the first time, and I walk in and she’s sitting there on the couch, arms folded, shaking her head,” she writes. “She goes on to say, back in her day, it was different, her point being: ‘I don’t know why young people feel like they gotta take their clothes off to make movies.’”
Why did Smith show his grandmother the film? He thought it would be funny, according to Pinkett Smith. “To this day, Will and I are still debating whether it was funny or not.”
6. Pinkett Smith recalls her audition for the role of Trinity in “The Matrix,” which Salma Hayek was also in the running for
Will Smith was the Wachowskis’ first choice to star as Neo in “The Matrix,” but he chose to play Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann’s biopic instead.
After casting Keanu Reeves as Neo, the Wachowskis’ were “open to casting a female lead of color” as Trinity for sci-fi action film.
“As directors, they were expressing how they saw the world, beyond heterosexual white folk surviving in an apocalyptic future,” Pinkett Smith explains.
“Salma [Hayek] and I both went through a series of physical movement auditions to make sure we could pull off the martial arts that Trinity would command,” she writes, adding that she wanted the part even more after Laurence Fishburne signed on as Morpheus.
When the Wachowskis asked Pinkett Smith to come in for a chemistry read with Reeves, she thought, as a huge fan of the “Point Break” star, it “was sure to be a walk in the park.”
The only problem? “We had absolutely no chemistry in the reading. Absolutely none. Zero.”
“Usually, when I don’t get a role I really want, I find myself thinking that I would have been the better choice,” Pinkett Smith continues. “But to this day, I can’t think of anyone who would have been a better Trinity than Carrie-Anne Moss. She was the dopest.”
7. Will Smith offered to speak with Jada Pinkett Smith on “Red Table Talk” about her “entanglement” with August Alsina
Pinkett Smith says after August Alsina — who was not her son’s best friend, she claims — released statements about their “entanglement” to the media, she planned on explaining her actions on “Red Table Talk” by herself, writing, “I felt that coming to the table to tell my story was imperative.”
“When I told Will what I was planning to do, he — by his own choice, without any prompt or request from me — decided to join me at the table,” she notes.
However, during their conversation, “he seemed to convey that he had been done wrong” and that her entanglement “came across as if this had been all a secret to him, when that wasn’t true, and that he had somehow ‘found out’ about my ‘relationship,’ as if I had not told him about it.”
Despite her team imploring her not to post the conversation with Smith and returning to the table alone, as she had originally intended, she explains, “‘It’s my mess, so it’s my hit to take.’”
8. Pinkett Smith details her conversation with Shakur about sexual assault accusations against him
When Shakur was involved in an ongoing sexual assault case related to an incident in November 1993, he went to Pinkett Smith to explain the details of the accusation to her.
“He didn’t get very far into the story before I stopped him, holding up my hand and looking at him with the same intensity. ‘Listen, I don’t need to hear the details. All I know is that if Tupac Amaru Shakur is ever in a room with any girl under any circumstance, she should always feel safe — no matter what.’”
She continues, “Throughout the legal proceedings, Pac would maintain that he did not commit the alleged abuse but did take responsibility for not having stopped the others who did.”
9. Pinkett Smith connected Cesar Millan with an English tutor and offered to pay for the lessons for a whole year
Pinkett Smith first met celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan when he was running a training and rehabilitation center in East L.A. She needed assistance with several Rottweilers she was fostering, so her friend suggested Millan.
“He hardly spoke English and his commands for the Rotts were in German,” according to Pinkett Smith.
She writes, “Cesar Millan, long before he was a household name, often talked to me about his dreams of sharing his knowledge with the masses — opening a bigger facility where people from all over the world could bring their dogs to be trained, and eventually becoming an author and television star.”
To help improve Millan’s career as a canine specialist, Pinkett Smith connected him with her former assistant, who was at one point an English teacher in Kuwait, and offered to pay for the tutor. “The two got to work right away, and Cesar proved to be as determined a student as he was a teacher.”
10. Pinkett Smith got into an argument with a former boyfriend about Shakur after the rapper had been shot in 1994
Pinkett Smith details her first encounter in the fall of 1994 with someone under the pseudonym Lance, which was arranged through their publicists and managers, as that was how “Hollywood introductions were often made.”
“From our first meeting, Lance seemed very focused on locking me down,” she writes. “He came with gifts, trips, and compliments galore, accompanied by declaration of his desire to have a child with me.”
After seeing Lance, who lived out of state, for an unspecified amount of time, Pinkett Smith was informed on Nov. 30 that Shakur had been ambushed and shot multiple times outside Quad Recording Studios near Times Square, so she needed to go to New York.
She writes, “As I started to make arrangements, [Lance] said, ‘So you’re going to leave me to go see some other n—-?’”
“In my romantic relationships, I had often been haunted by layers of misunderstanding regarding my relationship with Pac,” she explains. “So I could be patient with Lance’s discomfort, but the way he reacted didn’t score him any points with me.”
Pinkett Smith also shares a moment when a “minor dispute between us erupted into an explosive reaction from him.”
“The madder he became, the more I realized — this was not going to end well. Besides, this dude was huge, all muscle, and apparently out of control. He had been drinking, and when he slammed his fist on the dashboard, I feared I could be next.”
After jumping out of the car and running to his house, she “grabbed the biggest knife he had before running into his child’s empty bedroom to hide.” Before any physical altercation could occur, Lance’s friend — who was with them in the car — de-escalated the situation. Pinkett Smith then secretly called her assistant to book her a flight to L.A. the next morning.
“I never saw Lance again — alone, that is.”