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From entanglements to divorce rumours: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s relationship timeline

Following an ‘entanglement’ and infamous Oscars ‘slap’, the Hollywood couple has revealed they’ve been separated for seven years

Laura Hampson,Meredith Clark
Thursday 12 October 2023 19:10 BST
Related: Regina Hall makes joke about Will Smith’s ‘open marriage’ with Jada Pinkett-Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith has revealed that she and husband Will Smith have been separated for the last seven years.

The Girls Trip star, 52, shared in a new interview with People published on 11 October that she and the King Richard actor, 55, are “still figuring it out” when it comes to their marriage of 26 years. She explained at the time of the 2022 Academy Awards, when Will slapped Chris Rock, they had been separated for six years.

“We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together,” Jada said. “We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us.”

The pair have been married since 1997 and share son Jaden, 25, and daughter Willow, 22. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star also has a son Trey, 30, whom he shares with his first wife, Sheree Zampino.

As for her children, Jada praised them for how they’ve helped her grow. “My children, they’re little gurus. They’ve taught me a deep sense of self-acceptance,” she told the outlet.

Jada and Will have often opened up about their relationship over the years, and have had very public ups and downs throughout their marriage. Here’s a timeline of their relationship.

1994: Will and Jada meet on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will and Jada met after she auditioned for the role of Will’s girlfriend on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. While she did not get the part, the pair hit it off - despite Will being married to Sheree Zampino at the time, with who he shares son Trey.

“I had a realisation I wasn’t with the person I was supposed to be with,” he told Jada’s Red Table Talk in 2018. “I was sitting in a [bathroom] stall and I was crying and laughing uncontrollably, and I knew [Jada] was the woman I was supposed to be with.”

Will and Jada in 2000

1995: The pair officially begin dating

It wasn’t until 1995 that Will and Jada began seriously dating after Will finalised his divorce from Zampino.

1997: Will and Jada get engaged and married

Will popped the question to Jada in November 1997 before getting married just one month later in Baltimore.

Jada wasn’t initially sold on the idea of marriage. She told People in 2019: “I never wanted to get married. But my mother was like: ‘You have to get married’ - she’s so old-school - and Will wanted a family. So I said: ‘All right, maybe it’s something I should do.’”

1998: Their first child is born

Jada and Will’s first child together, son Jayden, was born in July 1998.

2000: Their second child was born

Jada and Will welcomed daughter Willow in 2000.

Will and Jada with their son Jayden in 2003

2013: Jada denies open marriage rumours (sort of)

After a quiet decade and a half making movies and raising their children, Jada took to Facebook to address rumours she and Will were in an open relationship.

She wrote: “Here is how I will change my statement... Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship... this means we have a GROWN one.”

2015: Will addresses divorce rumours

Will addresses persistent separation rumours by clarifying the pair were not getting a divorce.

“Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually respond to foolishness. But, so many people have extended [to] me their ‘deepest condolences’ that I figured - ‘What the hell… I can be foolish, too!’” he wrote on Facebook at the time. “So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over and over-again-ness… Jada and I are… NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

2018: Will revealed that he and Jada don’t refer to themselves as married

In an episode of TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast, Will said he and Jada “refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realise you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life. There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do - ever. Nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support till death and it feels so good to get to that space.”

2020: August Alsina claims he had an affair with Jada

August Alsina and Jada were introduced in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2020 that he claimed that he and Jada had dated while she was married and that her and Will’s marriage was open during that time.

Alsina said Will gave him and Jada his “blessing”, adding: “I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership that they’ve spoken on several times and it not involving romanticism.”

Alsina added he “totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life and I truly and really, really deeply loved and have a ton of love for her.”

The same day Alsina’s claims surfaced Jada’s reps said they were “absolutely not true”.

Less than two weeks later, Jada and Will appeared on an episode of Jada’s Red Table Talk where Jada confirmed that she did have a relationship with Alsina, saying that she and Will were separated at the time.

“We decided that we were going to separate for a period of time and you go figure out how to make yourself happy and I’ll figure out how to make myself happy,” Jada said at the time.

“From there, as time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August... Yes, it was a relationship absolutely.”

Jada also said that Will didn’t give permission, as the only person who could give her permission was herself.

2021: Jada discusses her and Will’s sex life, Will’s memoir is released

In another episode of Red Table Talk in October 2021, Jada said it “takes work” to maintain a  spark in the bedroom.

“It’s hard... the thing Will and I talk about a lot is the journey. We started in this [relationship] at a very young age, 22 years old... I think you expect your partner to know - especially when it comes to sex. It’s like: ‘Well, if you love me, you should know. If you love me, you should read my mind.’ That’s a huge pitfall,” she said at the time.

The next month, Will’s memoir is released which details several issues the couple have had over the years. He wrote they were “suffering the brutal death of our romantic fantasies, the burning away of the idealistic illusion of the perfect marriage and the perfect family. Neither of us wanted a divorce; we knew we loved each other, and some aspects of our union were magical. But the structure of the life that we had established was strangling both of us.”

2022: No infidelity statement and Oscars incident

During an interview on CBS Sunday Morning earlier this month, Will said he and Jada had never accused each other of cheating.

He said: “Never. There’s never been infidelity in our marriage...And we have never surprised one another with anything ever..I have decided that chatter about my life can be of a benefit to people. I think that chatter is the first stage to having a real conversation and being able to truly explore if some of the things in your heart are loving, or poisonous.”

In March 2022, Will slapped Chris Rock at the 94th annual Oscars before he yelled at the comedian to “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth”. It quickly became the most talked-about moment of the evening with the pair initially appearing to laugh off the tense moment.

The altercation came after Rock said: “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” referring to Jada’s shaved head. While accepting the award for Best Actor, Will became teary as said he was a “fierce defender of his family”.

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