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Jada Pinkett Smith says she and Will Smith have been separated for years

She says the two had been apart for years before ‘The Slap’

Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith have lived “completely separate lives” since 2016, she revealed in a televised interview with NBC co-anchor Hoda Kotb. The prominent Hollywood couple got married in 1997 and have addressed separations and marital troubles, but never this specifically.

Though it’s not a legal divorce, Pinkett Smith told Kotb in a clip released Wednesday on Today that it is essentially a divorce without papers. Smith and Pinkett Smith share two children, Willow and Jaden, as well as a son, Trey, from Smith’s first marriage.

Representatives for Smith and Pinkett-Smith did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The news came as a surprise to many, considering Pinkett Smith’s candor in her Red Table Talk series, in which she and Smith addressed her extramarital relationship in an episode in 2020, and the slap at the 2022 Academy Awards. At the ceremony, Smith infamously walked up on stage and struck presenter Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s hair.

Actor Will Smith (left) and Jada Pinkett Smith (right) arrive for the 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022.


The full interview will air on an hourlong NBC News prime-time special Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Pinkett Smith also has a memoir, Worthy, out on Oct. 17, which promises more details about their lives and relationship, as well as her upbringing in Baltimore.

She told Kotb that, “By the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying. I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

Pinkett Smith added that though she’s considered divorce, she hasn’t been able to go through with it.

“I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through … whatever,” she said.

In a new interview with People magazine, Pinkett Smith also said that she initially thought the slap was part of a skit.

“I was like, ‘There’s no way that Will hit him,’ ” Pinkett Smith said. “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit.”

Smith has apologized several times for the incident, which got him a 10-year ban on attending the Oscars or any other academy event.