Jada Pinkett Smith is opening up a little more about her feelings on the now-infamous incident during the 94th Academy Awards, where her husband, Will Smith, slapped Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke about Jada’s shaved head. The 50-year-old actress reflected on the moment during the cold open of the new “Red Table Talk” episode, which focuses on the impact of alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that Jada lives with that causes bald spots and hair loss.
“Considering what I’ve been through with my own health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands have reached out to me with their stories. I’m using this moment to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to inform people about what alopecia actually is,” Jada said at the top of the June 1 episode.
“Now, about Oscar night, my deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile,” she added. “The state of the world today, we need them both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring this thing called life together.”
In the weeks following the incident, Will publicly apologized to Chris and resigned from the Academy. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Will would be banned from attending any Academy events — in person or virtually — for a decade.
Chris, who declined to press charges that night, has yet to officially address the incident.
Jada previously acknowledged the incident in a subtle, shorter manner, posting a quote on Instagram that read, “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.” A source told ET that Jada “was glad that Will stood up for her” and that she “was hurt by Chris’ remark.”
While celebrities made headlines discussing the “traumatizing” effects of the slap, Wednesday’s “Red Table Talk” guests revealed that the event stirred the “alopecia community” into an “uproar.”
Niki Ball — the mother of 12-year-old Rio Allred, who suffered from alopecia and took her own life after being relentlessly mocked and bullied — told the hosts that she was able to connect with an “amazing” community after her daughter’s death. Niki said she witnessed the shift when Jada’s condition was thrown into the spotlight after the incident.
“Not even two weeks later, the Oscars was on and I was just like, what is the universe doing right now? This is crazy,” Niki recalled. “People are gonna be googling ‘what is alopecia?’ What is this that we have never heard of? It is not a joke, the alopecia community was already in an uproar. We had heard from so many people. I didn’t realize how huge and amazing that community is.”
“I wish I would have found them for [Rio] sooner instead of them coming and speaking at her funeral,” she added tearfully.
Moved to tears, Jada shared that hearing Niki and Rio’s story inspired her, especially after the Oscars.
“Rio’s story through this really difficult time has been really inspirational for me. When I heard her story, it affected me so profoundly,” Jada said. “I feel like I am part of such a beautiful tribe, the alopecia community is such a beautiful, amazing tribe. And I feel like I have this family that beautiful Rio is a part of. Just thank you once again for your courage and strength and willingness to share her light, to share her story, the story of your family, because it just helps to educate us all. Thank you deeply.”
Jada has been vocal about her struggles with alopecia, first addressing her struggles back in 2018, speaking on the Facebook Watch show about the moment she first noticed she was losing hair.
“It was terrifying when it first started,” Jada shared. “I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, am I going bald?'”
Although Jada previously used steroid shots to slow down the hair loss, she eventually shaved all her hair off. During a September 2021 episode of “RTT”, the actress told guests Tiffany Haddish and Yvonne Orji that her decision to shave her head came from a readiness for “that kind of expression and release.” She shared that the cut gave her a sense of “freedom,” making her feel more connected to herself and “the great Divine in a special way.”
Wednesday’s episode also features Gina Knight, who worked in the hair industry for more than a decade and explains why it’s more than “just hair,” top hair surgeon Dr. Meena Singh, who breaks down the different types of alopecia, and former NBA player Charlie Villanueva speaking out about his hidden struggle with alopecia.
Watch the full episode on alopecia on Facebook Watch.
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