Jada Pinkett Smith has revealed that she and husband Will Smith have been separated for roughly seven years, despite the couple frequently appearing together at high-profile events.
In a preview clip taken from an upcoming interview with NBC‘s Hoda Kotb that was released on Wednesday, Pinkett Smith that she and Smith, whom she married in 1997, had lived “completely separate lives” since becoming “exhausted with trying” to maintain their marriage in 2016.
Speaking about her upcoming memoir Worthy, which is set to be released on October 17, Pinkett Smith described the separation as “a divorce,” despite it not being a “divorce on paper.”
“By the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying,” Pinkett Smith said. “I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.
“I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a [legal] divorce,” she added. “We will work through whatever…And I just haven’t been able to break that promise.”
Pinkett Smith said her relationship status had not been previously revealed in public because neither she nor her husband were “ready” to “present that to people.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to Will Smith’s publicist via email on Wednesday afternoon.
The revelation that the couple had been separated for the better part of a decade sparked a flurry of questions about their public appearances, particularly concerning Smith’s infamous on-stage slap of comedian Chris Rock over a joke he made about Pinkett Smith while hosting the 2022 Oscars broadcast.
“Jada Pinkett Smith claims her and Will Smith haven’t been together since 2016,” @DramaAlert wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “WHAT WAS THE SLAP FOR THEN???”
“I think Chris Rock is entitled to one free face slap on Will Smith,” posted @BoricuaEnMaui.
According to The Daily Beast, Pinkett Smith reveals in Worthy that Rock had asked her out on a date one summer prior to the Oscars incident, under the assumption that she and Smith were divorcing.
Rock was said to have “profusely apologized” for making the romantic overture after Pinkett Smith told him that rumors of her divorce were “just rumors.”
In a People magazine interview published online Wednesday, Pinkett Smith said that she at first thought that a comedy “skit” was playing out when Smith slapped Rock and proceeded to tell him to “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth” during the Oscars ceremony.
“I thought, ‘This is a skit,’ ” Pinkett Smith said. “I was like, ‘There’s no way that Will hit him.’ It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit.”