Jada Koren Pinkett Smith (born September 18, 1971) is an American actress, producer, director, author, singer-songwriter, and businesswoman. She began her career in 1990, when she made a guest appearance in the short-lived sitcom True Colors. She starred in A Different World, produced by Bill Cosby, and she featured opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996). She starred in dramatic films such as Menace II Society (1993) and Set It Off (1996). She has appeared in more than 20 films in a variety of genres, including Scream 2, Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Pinkett Smith launched her music career in 2005, when she helped create the Heavy metal/rock band Wicked Wisdom, for which she is a singer and songwriter. Smith also created a production company and a makeover line, as well as authoring a book, published in 2000.
In 1997, she married rapper and actor Will Smith; they have two children, Jaden and Willow. Pinkett Smith is the stepmother to Smith's son, Willard "Trey" Smith III, from a previous marriage. Together, the couple have founded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, a charity organization which focuses on urban inner city youth and family support. The foundation has worked with non-profit organizations, such as YouthBuild and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Jada Pinkett Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and named after her mother's favorite soap opera actress, Jada Rowland. Pinkett-Smith is of West Indian, Creole, and Portuguese-Jewish ancestry. Her parents are Adrienne Banfield-Jones, the head nurse of an inner-city clinic in Baltimore; and Robsol Pinkett, Jr., who ran a construction company. Banfield-Jones became pregnant in high school. The couple married but divorced after several months. Banfield-Jones raised Pinkett with the help of her mother, Marion Martin Banfield, who was employed as a social worker. Banfield noticed her granddaughter's passion for the performing arts and enrolled her in piano, tap dance, and ballet lessons. She has a younger half-brother, actor/writer Caleeb Pinkett.
"[My mother] understood what I wanted and never stood in my way."
Pinkett Smith has remained close to her mother and said, "A mother and daughter's relationship is usually the most honest, and we are so close." She participated as the maid of honor in Banfield-Jones' 1998 wedding to telecommunications executive Paul Jones. Pinkett-Smith has shown great admiration for her grandmother, saying, "My grandmother was a doer who wanted to create a better community and add beauty to the world."
Pinkett Smith majored in dance and theatre at the Baltimore School for the Arts, graduating in 1989. She continued her education at the North Carolina School of the Arts, but dropped out after a year. She moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue an acting career.
Jada moved to Los Angeles and stayed with LaVern Whitt, former stuntwoman, now producer and long time family/friend, who got her started in the industry. In Los Angeles, Pinkett Smith inquired about the choreographer position for the television series In Living Color, created by actor Keenan Ivory Wayans whom she met through LaVern but the job was already taken by Rosie Perez. LaVern helped her find an acting agent and got her started in the industry by introducing Jada to many of her celebrity friends including Keenan. She began her acting career in 1990, when she starred in a television pilot for supernatural drama Moe's World that was never aired. She received guest roles in television shows such as True Colors (1990), Doogie Howser, M.D. (1991), and 21 Jump Street (1991). She earned a role on comedian Bill Cosby's NBC television sitcom A Different World in 1991, as college freshman Lena James.