Jada Pinkett Smith on getting personal, discussing #MeToo in ‘Red Table Talk’

 

 

is opting to get personal over political on her new Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk.”

“I was drawn to this project for personal growth and expansion. I feel like there’s so much political conversation and more people talking about what they’re feeling about external things than what they’re feeling on the inside. There’s not enough conversation about [the latter],” Pinkett Smith tells Variety. “I just want to dive into issues of the heart.”

In order to discuss everything from motherhood to sex to loss, Pinkett Smith, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her daughter, Willow Smith, invite viewers into the Smith family home — literally. The show is filmed in their house, which Pinkett Smith admits made her think a lot about “where the cameras were going to be allowed to be” in addition to how deep she was going to get in shedding a public persona to really open her life up to the viewers.

“For me, what it’s about is to create and fortify safe space and have really unfiltered conversations because right now, in this day and age, the world is changing so much, and we’re trying to figure out how we can change with it, what do our relationships look like, how are we supposed to be parenting our kids, what does it mean to be a woman?” Pinkett Smith says. “Now we have so many options — so many freedoms — and there are so many ideas that need to expand and grow. So really for us it was just creating a place where we have permission to talk through that and giving permission for others to do the same.”

One episode that hit particularly close to home was the one centered on loss. Pinkett Smith shares that on the day they were shooting she got a phone call about a friend’s passing. “That was hard, but the show had to go on,” she says. “It was really interesting, sitting at the table with that rawness.” What kept her going was just how much other people’s stories have helped her in the past and how she knew this show — and her stories — could be that for someone else.

The three women serve as hosts of the 10-episode series that streams on Mondays starting May 7 and are also going to do a Facebook Live portion of the show every Wednesday as a way to interact with their audience.

“We just wanted to be organic — whatever the topic calls for,” Pinkett Smith says. “We didn’t ease in [with any topics], but the live shows may give us a chance to clarify some of the things we talked about.”

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Jada Pinkett Smith out and about
Jada Pinkett Smith arrives ahead of a VIP screening of GIRLS TRIP at Event Cinemas George Street on August 30, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.
AUGUST 29, 2017: SYDNEY, NSW - (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) Actress Jada Pinkett Smith poses during a photo shoot in Sydney, New South Wales. (Photo by Tim Hunter/Newspix/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Jada Pinkett Smith seen at the ITV Studios on July 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by HGL/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Jada Pinkett Smith attends a special screening of Girls Trip at the Soho Hotel on July 25, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Jada Pinkett Smith seen at Capital Radio Studios promoting new movie 'Girls Trip' on July 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Jada Pinkett Smith -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is seen outside 'Good Morning America' on July 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19: Jada Pinkett Smith during Hoda Kotb Hosts A Leading Ladies Event With Jada Pinkett Smith For SiriusXM Today Show Radio at SiriusXM Studios on July 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0706 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Jada Pinkett Smith with Host Jimmy Fallon arriving to play 'Catchphrase' on July 18, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 17: Actresses Jada Pinkett Smith (L) and Regina Hall visit the Build Series to discuss the movie 'Girls Trip' at Build Studio on July 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Actress Jada Pinkett Smith attends the premiere of 'Girls Trip' at Regal LA Live Stadium 14 on July 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 11: Jada Pinkett Smith attends 'Girls Trip' Atlanta Screening at SCADshow on July 11, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 01: Jada Pinkett Smith, left, Queen Latifah from the movie Girls Trips speak during the Essence Music Festival at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 1, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images for Universal)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JUNE 30: Actress Jada Pinkett Smith at 'Girls Trip' New Orleans screening at Theatres at Canal Place on June 30, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Actress Jada Pinkett Smith attends the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: Jada Pinkett Smith attends the 2017 NBA Awards at Basketball City - Pier 36 - South Street on June 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith speak onstage at 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 25: Jada Pinkett Smith is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on May 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith poses for a portrait at Music City Convention Center on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images Portrait)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 25: Jada Pinkett Smith is seen on May 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images)
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Pinkett Smith notes that the level of engagement Facebook Watch offers is why she wanted to do the show on such a platform in the first place. “Finding the right producerial partner was important to help communicate the show the way I wanted to,” she says of not only Facebook but also Ellen Rakieten, an executive producer on “Red Table Talk.”

But these three women won’t be the only ones chiming in. Pinkett Smith shares that season 1’s guests include Tiffany Haddish, Gabrielle Union, and her husband Will Smith’s first wife, Sheree.

“Our first episode is me talking with Sheree about us co-parenting together and what our journey’s been like in that experience — what my mother thought about having her at Christmas, what Willow thought about [it],” Pinkett Smith reveals.

While Pinkett Smith says each episode is focused on conversations about internal struggles and serve as opportunities for “personal growth,” she notes that occasionally hot news topics get brought into the discussion as well.

When Union was on, for example, the episode served not only as a “reconciliation show” for the women, who Pinkett Smith reveals “hadn’t talked for 17 years and we didn’t know why,” but also as a chance to discuss the #MeToo movement.

“We talk about her involvement in [that],” Pinkett Smith says, “and what we as African-American women in Hollywood are relating to that movement.”

It is a conversation Pinkett Smith hopes to be able to continue, either through the live shows or with future taped episodes in a second season.

“To me, all of these movements are geared towards us redefining what it is to be a woman and hopefully getting to a place where it can be an autonomous definition — because not every woman is the same,” she says. “I just feel like these movements are moving us into the direction of each individual woman having to ask herself what does it mean to be a woman for her? There’s no one answer.”

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