Willow Smith Recalls Witnessing Mom Jada Pinkett Smith Endure "Intense Racism and Sexism"

Before she was the "Whip My Hair" star, Willow Smith saw the treatment her mom faced as a Black woman in music. Read on for the lesson she took from Jada Pinkett Smith that still sticks today.

By Samantha Schnurr Jun 29, 2021 5:02 PMTags
Watch: Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith's Anniversary: E! News Rewind

For Willow Smith, some of her mom's most difficult experiences doubled as pivotal lessons. 

In a newly published interview for L'Officiel, the 20-year-old cover star recalled following mom Jada Pinkett Smith, then the lead singer of her nu metal band Wicked Wisdom, on tour and bearing witness to the alarming treatment she faced as a Black woman. 

"My mom got so much hate," Willow told the magazine. "It was intense racism and sexism, just packed on to the tens. People giving her death threats, throwing glass at her onstage. Some crazy stuff went down when she was touring with her band."  

"I got to see that hate firsthand," she added. "It was so scary to me, and I think I internalized a little bit."

While it's behavior no one should have had to suffer, how Jada handled such treatment continues to stick with her musical daughter, especially when she is feeling insecure.

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith Through the Years

"Every time I feel that coming on, I just go back to my memories of my mom and how she would deal with actual physical danger—she just rose above it," Willow said. "Obviously, she was scared. But she really showed me what 'womaning up' really was, by taking a stance and not being afraid of other people's judgments and perceptions."

John Sciulli/WireImage

She's parted with some of her own judgment, too. While she said she previously "really regretted" the "Whip My Hair" phase of her life that unfolded a decade ago, a recent re-listen made Willow change her tune. 

"I'm not saying anything that's against my values, and on top of that, I'm saying things that are in harmony with my values," she said. "I kind of just had a huge aha and was like, ‘Yo, don't condemn this side of your life because it gave you a foundation and a platform and a fan base of so many loving individuals who have been by my side through this whole crazy, topsy-turvy journey that I've had. Now, I would never take it back.'"

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