Jada Pinkett Smith Says People Used Her Marriage to Will Smith as a Reason to Pay Her Less

“People would literally say: ‘Well, you don’t need it.’”

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is opening up about pay equity and how her marriage impacted how much Hollywood executives were willing to compensate her for her work.

In a recent interview with NPR's It's Been a Minute, Pinkett Smith said people would "literally say: 'Well, you don't need it. You're married to Will."

The Red Table Talk host went on to say that pay inequity had "a lot to do with" why she no longer acts as much as she used to.

"And also wanting to get on the other side to kind of help remedy that as a producer and then just wanting to bring more of my influence behind the scene," she continued. "It’s not to say that I won’t get in front of the camera, but what it takes for me to get in front of the camera."

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pinkett Smith discussed the inequality in Hollywood pay after saying that she resonated with comments Taraji P. Henson made in regards to her compensation.

In a SiriusXM interview in December, 2023 that went viral, Henson said that when it comes to pay parity the “the math ain’t matching."

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson said at the time. “You get tired. I hear people go, ‘You work a lot!’ I have to."

"It’s hard to speak about,” Pinkett Smith said in regards to Henson's comments and pay equity, adding that her heart broke for Henson.

"As Black entertainers, we carry a lot of people with us,” she continued, explaining that it can actually be more difficult to walk away from a project when an actor is offered less than they know they are worth or deserve.

Actors Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Taraji P. Henson arrive to the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last year, Pinkett Smith revealed that her and husband Will Smith have been separated since 2016.

In an interview with TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb, Pinkett Smith said that while the split wasn't a "divorce on paper" it was "a divorce."

“Why it fractured…that, that’s a lot of things," she continued. "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 went on to say that she made a promise that "there will never be a reason" for her and Smith to officially divorce.

"We will work through…whatever,” Pinkett Smith said at the time. “I just haven’t been able to break that promise.”

Danielle Campoamor

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.