Readers hungering for celebrity tidbits won’t be disappointed by Jada Pinkett Smith’s memoir, Worthy. In it, Smith, 52, writes about her life in Los Angeles during what she dubs the “Golden Years of Black Hollywood,” the time of Boyz n the Hood, In Living Color and A Different World. It was during that heyday that she met the rising actor Will Smith.
She writes thoughtfully about their courtship, their lives together (and apart; they separated in 2016), their children Trey, Jaden and Willow. And, yes, she covers The Slap. Even so, the Jada juggernaut sure to accompany the book’s publication (Oct. 17) may gloss over some of the more tough, tender and funny moments that make Smith, as the title says, worthy.
This is a book about brokenness, about loss, about fixing what was fractured early on. Mother Adrienne Banfield was 17 when Jada was born, and for a time she was a functioning heroin addict. Father Robsol Pinkett struggled with drugs and alcohol addiction much of his life. Pinkett Smith is frank about her mental health crises — a shattering panic attack, depression and thoughts of suicide. She's wise about the systemic challenges facing underserved communities and surprisingly good on friendships — especially the one she had with Tupac Shakur. '
One thing becomes clear very early on in Worthy: she is a seeker. From her childhood in Baltimore to the mental health crises that find her at the top of a Medicine Woman’s driveway in Ojai, CA, contemplating a plant medicine intervention, hers is a journey rife with psychological, emotional and spiritual grappling.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, which is the main reason I wrote this book,” she states, “is how important it is to share our journeys of self-worth.”
Here's some of what we learn along the way.
How she came to have the name Jada
Her mother, Adrienne, named her only child after a soap actor, Jada Rowland, “who starred for two decades on The Secret Storm.” “Jada’s character began on the show as a teenager and aged in real time. So, in a sense, my mother had grown up with her — even though Jada Rowland herself is white and doesn’t have much in common with Adrienne or me. Still, you might say my mother’s decision to name me after an actress could have been either prophetic or wishful thinking.” Or both.
Jada Pinkett Smith learned significant life lessons from her grandparents
Her maternal grandparents provided an oasis for Jada and single mom Adrienne. Their middle-class Baltimore home and her grandmother’s garden were a haven of security but also provided Smith a metaphor for personal growth. “Everything grows,” she writes. “If I had learned anything from the gardening lessons with my grandmother, that one truth stood above the rest. Every step is important in the care and nurturing of what we hope to see grow and thrive.”
Her father, Robsol Pinkett, was an addict, an autoditact and a poet
Robsol Pinkett married Adrienne Banfield because she was pregnant. The couple was married just over year. Throughout his life, he had alcohol and drug addiction problems. Although Robsol wasn’t much of a father to Pinkett Smith, she loved her father's mind and flair and includes one of his poems, which has the refrain she’s loved since she was a kid, “nobody gets out of life alive…”