Why So Many Celebs Are Spilling Secrets on Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk

While no one is out here replacing Oprah Winfrey, Jada Pinkett Smith's brand of tough love has made her Red Table Talk an attractive place for stars to unburden themselves.

By Sarah Grossbart Dec 15, 2020 8:00 AMTags
Watch: "Red Table Talk" Bombshells: Olivia Jade, Entanglements & More

When it started, Jada Pinkett Smith and her mom Adrienne Banfield-Norris weren't envisioning bold-faced names tackling delicate topics head-on as millions of fans listened in. 

They just wanted to give Willow Smith a space to learn more about the relationship between her mom and Gammy. "Willow had been asking questions," Adrienne explained to the New York Times in March. "And it dawned on Jada that there's a lot of things that Willow just doesn't know about us." 

So they sat down at their red kitchen table and pressed record, allowing the then-12-year-old to fire away. That first video, posted to YouTube in June 2013, garnered upwards of 31,000 views and sparked an idea. 

There was a void, it turned out, for candid conversations and unfiltered points of view, one that could be filled with the Smith's unique brand of raw, real straight-talk and willingness to delve deep into tough subjects with Adrienne, 67, Jada, 49, and Willow, 20, offering their multi-generational perspectives. 

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith Through the Years

And having experienced what Jada called a year of growth ahead of the series' May 2018 debut—"I've really been using this as the opportunity to be more vulnerable, be more open, put down the mask and so regarding things that hurt," the actress explained to The Hollywood Reporter—she felt her creation, backed by a longtime veteran of The Oprah Winfrey Show, could provide a forum for others to do the same.

As she put it, "We just wanted to create a safe space."

Red Table Talk/Stan Evans

The kind of space where people feel comfortable unburdening themselves, perhaps? Because that's just what Red Table Talk has become in it's two-and-a-half years dominating Facebook Watch.

Filling the area Oprah Winfrey didn't entirely vacate thanks to her continued SuperSoul Conversations, Jada, Willow and Adrienne's titular table is the destination for celebs in need of giving their side of any particular story. A crucial stop on any post-scandal apology tour, stars know they'll have the space to speak their piece and that they'll be met with Jada's blend of understanding and tough love.  

Take Olivia Jade, for example. Eager to move forward with her life 21 months after mom Lori Loughlin was first arrested for conspiracy to commit mail fraud thanks to her well-intentioned, but illegal attempts to get Olivia and younger sister Isabella into the prestigious University of Southern California, the onetime YouTube sensation was finally ready to offer up her take

So she asked if she could come to the table.  

And though Adrienne, for one, wasn't thrilled to have her ("I fought it tooth and nail. I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story," she noted), Jada stayed true to the goal she's had in mind since the beginning. 

"Let me just be clear, I never want to be the thing that was done to me by white women—I never want to be there. Okay?" Jada explained of refusing to write off the 21-year-old influencer no matter how much heat they'd take for the decision. "I also believe that these are the kinds of attitudes that feed the same thing that we're fighting. It's like, people look at us, they say you're Black, and you're female, they automatically put us in a category. So looking at her as being white, young and privileged. And then putting her in a category is the same thing."

Ultimately that went against everything she was trying to create with a series that was meant to allow people to "take off your mask, and whatever persona you created on Instagram or Facebook," as she put it THR. "Take it off and leave it to the side for 20 minutes. I'm just hoping that it will give people permission to just be real."

And Olivia did just that. Opening up about coming to terms with her inherent privilege, the social media personality joined a growing collection of stars who have gotten very real about uncomfortable topics, talking with the fam about everything from addiction to cheating to private family drama. 

So as we all digest Olivia's big mea culpa, let's reflect back on all of the other celebs who have pulled up a seat and laid bare their emotions. 

Gabrielle Union

Raise your hand if you didn't realize Being Mary Jane alum and Jada Pinkett Smith were even feuding until the actress agreed to be an early Red Table Talk guest. Same. The original conceit of that May 2018 episode, Jada explained to Essence, was to do a "girlfriends show" with one of her closest BFFs. But, "I was like, no, I actually think I want to make a new girlfriend."

So she reached out to Gabrielle hoping to call a cease-fire to the strange cold war that had begun brewing between them in the early 00s for a reason neither could fully remember. "It felt so good on the phone with you to even just go, 'Hey, I'm sorry that I didn't even take the time to talk to you, you know?'" Jada told Gabrielle. "And then I had to just apologize and just thinking to myself, 'Damn, Jada! That was some petty ass s--t!'"

For her part, Gabrielle acknowledged she should have done more to end the 17-year feud. "I could've been like, 'OK, I know this is super uncomfortable but I'm gonna hop in your face and we're gonna talk,'" she said, admitting that instead she allowed herself to continuously brush it off. But after making amends, "It was like a gorilla hopped off my back that I didn't even know was there and I needed that."


Among those disturbed by the rapper's November 2019 commentary that he regularly had daughter Deyjah Harris' hymen checked to ensure she remained a virgin was Deyjah herself, which is originally what brought the "Live Your Life" artist to the table that same month. 

Insisting that his tales had begun "in a very joking manner" and had been embellished and "terribly misconstrued and misconceived," he still acknowledged that Deyjah "had a problem" with his decision to speak about their arrangement. "I understand it and I am incredibly apologetic to her," he continued. "Not to any of these other strangers or any of these weirdos who toss lies around for free." 

But as Jada continued to prod about why his comments could be harmful to young women and how men often fail to grasp what women are going through, he eventually appeared to grasp the larger picture, at one point declaring, "Well, I think [men] should stay out of it." Jada's response? "Boom. That's the point."

Jordyn Woods

Anyone not yet acquainted with Red Table Talk, pulled up a front row seat when Jada and co. announced that they'd invited Jordyn Woods to untangle the scandal with Tristan Thompson that had landed her in hot water with the entire Kardashian crew. 

For Jordyn, a longtime Smith family friend, the show was a safe space for her to explain how she went from Kylie Jenner's BFF to persona non grata in the blink of one ill-advised night with the basketball pro. And so in the March 2019 episode, she gave her version of events, explaining how she'd run into Khloe Kardashian's then-ex at a bar and accepted his invitation to an impromptu party at his house. And though "never once was I giving him a lap dance, making out with him, sitting all over him," she told Jada. "On the way out, he did kiss me."

While she allowed that she shouldn't have put herself in that position, her biggest crime was the dishonesty that came after. "I had talked to Khloe and she asked me what was going on, is everything fine. And in my head of trying to forget that part of the story, I was just like, 'You know, no, he was chilling, everything was OK,'" she said. "I was honest about being there, but I wasn't honest about the actions that had taken place."

Jada later admitted she almost didn't extend the invite to Jordyn, worried her interview skills weren't refined enough. "I was very wary because I didn't think I could do her justice because I am so close to her and I'm so new," she explained months later. But ultimately, "I was like, 'Alright, we gotta go to the table. She has to have an opportunity to speak her piece.'"

Snoop Dogg

The rapper dunked hard when he saw Gayle King ask WNBA legend and CBS This Morning guest Lisa Leslie if Kobe Bryant had a "complicated" legacy due to the rape accusations brought against him in the early '00s. 

"Out of pocket for that s--t," he said in a heated Instagram video. "Way out of pocket. What do you gain from that? I swear to God, we're the worst. We're the f--king worst. We expect more from you, Gayle. Don't you hang out with Oprah? Why y'all attacking us? We your people. You ain't coming after f--king [producer] Harvey Weinstein, asking them dumbass questions. I get sick of ya'll."

Having later apologized, he reinforced his regrets in a February sitdown with Jada, Adrienne and Willow. "It was just a matter of me losing control," he said, explaining he was still reeling from the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, his grandson and his grandmother. "I was frustrated on top of just venting and doing it the wrong way."

Though he revealed he'd privately received support from the likes of Tyler Perry and Puff Daddy, he nonetheless felt he'd misused his celebrity. "It made me feel like I had too much power and at that particular time, I was abusing it," he noted. "I'm a great person as far as understanding when I'm wrong. I like being an example of wrong and right because my whole career is based off of being wrong and right."

Jada Pinkett Smith

Among the reasons the show has amassed a growing fanbase: Jada's willingness to hold herself accountable for her actions, something she did from the start, hosting a frank discussion between herself and husband Will Smith's first wife Sheree Fletcher in the debut episode. 

But she was at, perhaps, her most honest when she brought herself to the table this July. Infamous for coining "entanglement," 2020's answer to "conscious uncoupling," the episode saw Jada tell all about her relationship with singer August Alsina. What had started as a friendship, she explained, shifted after she and Will decided to separate. 

"It was a relationship," she acknowledging during her chat with Will. "I was in a lot of pain and I was very broken. In the process of that relationship I definitely realized you can't find happiness outside of yourself. Luckily enough, you and I were also going through a process of healing in a much different manner. We did everything we could to get away from each other, only to realize that wasn't possible."

Olivia Jade

Weeks after parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli began their concurrent prison sentences for conspiracy to commit mail fraud tied to the college admissions scandal, the former YouTuber was finally ready to confront her privilege. In those initial months, she admitted, she struggled to see why everything was making such a big deal about her parents' having bribed her way into the University of Southern California.

"I remember thinking, 'How are people mad about this?'" she recalled. "Like, I know that sounds so silly. But in the bubble that I grew up in, I didn't know so much outside of it. And a lot of kids in that bubble, their parents were donating to schools and doing stuff that advantaged—so many advantages. It's not fair and it's not right, but it was happening."

But having sat in it awhile, she realized it was time to get educated. "That's embarrassing within itself that I walked around my whole 20 years of life not realizing like, you have insane privilege—you're like the poster child of white privilege and you had no idea," she acknowledging, insisting she was there to "apologize for contributing to the social inequality" but also put the entire experience behind her.

"I think what's so important to me is like to learn from the mistake," she said. "Not to now be shamed and punished and never given a second chance. I'm 21, I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself, to show I've grown."

Willow, for one, was swayed by her stance. "She agrees with Adrienne that Olivia will be fine because she's white, pretty and rich—white privilege serves her redemption more than the financial privilege," a source told E! News. "Willow understands how hard it is for the Black community to forgive Olivia. But if she is genuine about wanting to change and be better, she feels she does deserve a second chance."