celebrity

"Am I not a normal human?" The side of the Smith family we don't often see.

This post deals with self-harm and body image, and could be triggering for some readers.

The Smiths are one of the world's most famous families.

There's the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, fellow actor Jada Pinkett-Smith, and their children, actor and musician Jaden, and musician Willow. Then there's also Trey, Will's son from his first marriage.

The Smith family are extremely public, and they're often open and honest about their private lives. Through Jada and Willow's Red Table Talk series, the family have spoken about sex, fame, marriage, and Jada's "entanglement" with another man, and Will has held nothing back in his 2021 memoir, Will.

Watch: Jada Pinkett Smith talks about the moment when Jaden Smith said that he was going to move out at 15. Post continues below video.


Video via Red Table Talk.

For the children bearing the Smith name, fame has been a way of life for, well, their entire lives. Living such public lives has its consequences, and it's these the public has been less privy to. 

Will Smith divorced his first wife, Sheree Zampino, in 1995 after three years of marriage. It was the same year he started dating Jada, whom he married two years later in 1997.

These days, his eldest son Trey is seen regularly with his younger siblings - and Sheree even appeared on a Red Table Talk episode to talk about blended families with Jada - but it wasn't always that way.

In 2019, Will reflected on his past challenges with Trey. 

"This relationship with Trey is brand new," he admitted in an episode of his Bucket List Facebook Watch show. "When you get divorced and then start another family, that had effects on Trey that we're still healing and overcoming. Really in the last two years has there been enough wisdom and emotional development to be able to lovingly address the issues.

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"We're diving into creating a divine, loving friendship.

"You cannot get around spending time if you want to build love. It's something I failed at for most of Trey's life, but I'm going to dedicate the rest of my life to making up for it."

In his memoir, Will talks about parenting moments he regrets and how his intense fame impacted his children.

He recalled how Jaden felt "betrayed" when After Earth, a film they both starred in, resulted in "vicious" backlash from the public and the press. 

"After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure," Smith wrote. 

"And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit. Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I'd instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he'd ever experienced.

"We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership." 

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Smith shared that Jaden even asked about being an emancipated minor, a person who is freed from control by their parents or guardians.  

"At 15 years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you've hurt your kids."

Will, Jada and Trey. Image: Getty.

In 2017, Jaden and Willow spoke to Pharrell Williams about fame for Interview.

"How people look at us in public is not how we actually are in private," Jaden said.

"It’s just that we choose not to tell everyone everything. Like, okay, I'm in New York right now. I'm not posting an emoji of a plane on Instagram, like, 'New York.' I don't want anyone to know that I'm here in New York. And by the time this comes out, I won't be. We don't like people to really know what's happening with us or what we're into."

In a 2018 interview with Dazed, Jaden said he only found a 'normal' community as an adult, when he started going to skate parks.

"People treat me like I'm not a normal human so much, that you start to believe [it], like, 'Am I not a normal human?'" he explained.

"I didn't always get to hang out with normal people when I was young. So being older and being able to hang out with the big kids and play with normal people is fun. When I go to skate parks, people are like, 'Oh shit, is that Jaden Smith?' for about the first five minutes. Then after that, it's totally fine and I'm another skater."

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Trey, Will and Jaden Smith. Image: Getty.

In another part of his book, Will wrote about pressuring Willow into a career she did not want, following the success of her single 'Whip My Hair', released just before her 10th birthday.

She opened up for Justin Bieber on his 2011 European tour, and told her dad she wanted to stop at the end of that leg, but Will said she couldn't because she already had upcoming dates in Australia scheduled.

So, one morning, Willow "skipped into the kitchen" with her head shaved.

"My jaw nearly dislocated, dislodged, and shattered on the kitchen floor: My world-dominating, hair-whipping, future global superstar was totally bald. During the night, Willow had shaved her entire head," he wrote. 

"My mind raced and scrambled — how was she going to whip her hair if she didn't have any? Who the hell wants to pay to watch some kid whip their head back and forth?

"But before I could respond, I felt something slowly turning, shifting, until it clicked into place: In a moment of divine connection and revelation, she had reached me. I leaned down, peered deeply into her eyes, and said, 'I got it. I am so sorry. I see you.'"

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Willow and Jaden Smith. Image: Getty.

Willow spoke about her experience with 'Whip My Hair' on Red Table Talk in 2018, saying she felt like she was too young to be given that kind of spotlight.

"I only had one really terrible experience, which is 'Whip My Hair,'" Willow said when asked about a time where she felt like her parents didn't 'get' her.

"Just that the values of the people around me should have been the opposite.

"You and daddy should have been, 'OK, we value her musical growth and knowledge more than her popularity,'" she told Jada, who acknowledged she could not relate to her children's experiences of growing up surrounded by money and fame after 'hustling' her way to the top.

"I think all that came with it was too much," Jada responded. "Let me tell you something, when we heard it, I was like, What is this?' Jay-Z was like, 'This is a hit record.' I was like, really? This one? For us, that survival mentality for your dad and I, we were like, 'Oh man, she'll be set up for life. This is her start.'"

Will, Jada, Jaden and Willow in 2004. Image: Getty.

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In 2017, Willow told Girl Gaze growing up famous was "absolutely terrible".

"Growing up and trying to figure out your life... while people feel like they have some sort of entitlement to know what’s going on, is absolutely, excruciatingly terrible - and the only way to get over it, is to go into it," she explained.

"You can't change your face. You can't change your parents. You can't change any of those things. So I feel like most kids like me end up going down a spiral of depression, and the world is sitting there looking at them through their phones; laughing and making jokes and making memes at the crippling effect that this lifestyle has on the psyche.

"When you're born into it, there are two choices that you have; I'm either going to try to go into it completely and help from the inside, or... I'm really going to take myself completely out of the eye of society. There's really no in-between," she said.

Willow has been open about how she began self-harming in her early teens, after struggling with fame and the weight of expectation after 'Whip My Hair'.

"I was super young, and I had a dream, but all I really wanted to do was sing and I didn't equate that with all the business and the stress that ended up coming with it," she told People in 2018.

She said reading about science and spirituality inspired her to stop.

"I was like, 'This is pointless — my body is a temple,' and I completely stopped," she said. "It seemed literally psychotic after a certain point because I had learned to see myself as worthy."

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Listen: Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast. Post continues below audio.


She told Girl Gaze she shared this part of herself so others didn't feel alone.

"Everyone is looking at you to be a role model and to use your platform to do something positive. That's too important to be like eh, 'I'm going to be sad and depressed'. If you have this platform and people listen to you, be vulnerable. People are feeling the way that you're feeling. Don't sit in the shadows and be alone. Let people know that they're not alone."

Despite the struggles, the Smith children have also been open about their pride and love for their parents.

"Growing up, all I saw was my parents trying to be the best people they could be, and people coming to them for wisdom, coming to them for guidance, and them not putting themselves on a pedestal," Willow told Interview

"They always give back what people give to them. And sometimes they keep giving and giving and giving. And some people don't feel like they need to give anything back because it's like, 'Oh, if you're famous, you can just keep giving, and it doesn’t matter.' It's not just about money. It’s not just about giving people gifts or whatever. What my parents have given to me is not anything that has to do with money or success or anything that society says people should be focusing on - it's something spiritual that only certain people can grasp and accept. And that's how I act and move in the world today."

Jaden said he "100 per cent" agreed with his sister.

"My parents are definitely my biggest role models. And that's where me and Willow both pull all of our inspiration from to change the world. It all comes from a concept of affecting the world in a positive way and leaving it better than it was than when we came."

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Kid's Helpline is also available on 1800 551 800.

Feature image: Getty.

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