The Nutty Professor
African-American actress Jada Pinkett initially received notice for her portrayal of Lena James in the hit sitcom "A Different World" (1991-1993). Rising to prominence with 1993’s drama Menace II Society, Pinkett gained praise after playing Eddy Murphy’s leading lady in the comedy film The Nutty Professor (1996). Since the success of the film, Pinkett, who is known for her petite size and high-energy charm, has added to her plate such high-profiles movies as Set It Off (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Woo (1998), director Spike Lee's Bamboozled (2000) and the final two Matrix movies, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003).
"Will is a very interesting, unique man, and I'll tell you why. He makes love like a woman. He loves to touch, massage and feel. He makes love like he's in touch with himself, who he is. And he's a very sensual, incredible love maker." Jada Pinkett
Pinkett is also known as the wife of box-office and recording star Will Smith, whom she married on December 31, 1997. The couple recently was ranked in the third position on the Hollywood’s “10 Most Loving Couples List” by Touch magazine (2005). With Will, she shares two beloved children, son Jaden Christopher Syre (born on July 8, 1998) and daughter Willow Camille Reign (born on October 31, 2000).
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Robsol Pinkett Jr. (contractor) and Adrienne Banfield (nurse), Jada Koren Pinkett was born on September 18, 1971. Her mother became pregnant with Jada when she was a high school student, and after only a few months of marriage, her parents divorced. Jada then was raised by her single mom and her grandmother, Marion Banfield.
Finding her granddaughter’s great passion for the performing arts, Marion signed Jada up for piano, tap and ballet classes, while also sending her to the Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, in which Jada majored in Dance and Choreography. Upon graduation, Jada spent one year at North Carolina School of the Arts to study theater before dropping out to pursue an acting career.
In 1995, Jada met actor/rapper Will Smith during the production of Smith’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where she joined the auditioned for the role of Smith’s girlfriend (but she was turned down). Two years later, she decided to tie the knot with Smith on New Year’s Eve in 1997. Jada and husband welcomed their first child, a baby son named Jaden Christopher Syre, on July 8, 1998, and their daughter, Willow Camille Reign, was born on October 31, 2000. Jada also has a stepson named Tyre, who was born in 1992. While not acting, she enjoys spending time singing with her R&B/rock fusion group Wicked Wisdom, where she serves as the vocalist. She once said that singing gives her more freedom to express herself than acting.
A Different World
Leaving drama school after only a year of study, Jada Pinkett, who made her professional stage debut in a regional production of August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," subsequently headed for Hollywood to give acting a try. Her opportunity to become an actress opened up when she met Keenan Ivory Wayans, who found her an agent. Shortly after, Pinkett got her start on television by appearing in a number of commercials, and then guest starred in an episode of "True Colors" (1990) and appeared in an unsold ABC television pilot, Moe's World (1990). Her first brush with fame arrived a year later when she landed the recurring role of Lena James in Bill Cosby's series "A Different World." Pinkett’s performance was so convincing that she was asked to join the hit sitcom as a regular cast member in 1992.
Pinkett left the show in 1993 and quickly made a big move to the wide screen when director Albert Hughes cast her in the tiny role of Ronnie in the drama film Menace II Society (1993). Showcasing a good dramatic role, the new performer won praise and Pinkett’s career took flight. In 1994, she found herself acting with Larenz Tate and Joe Morton in the coming-of-age comedy The Inkwell (1994), won her first leading role as the girlfriend of Jason (played by Allen Payne), in the 1994 drama Jason's Lyric and again received notice for the spunky role of Peaches Jordan in her fellow friend Keenan Ivory Wayans' comedy Low Down Dirty Shame (1994). Pinkett acquired her first taste of the horror genre from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight (1995), opposite Billy Zane and William Sadler.
With several big screen movies under her belt, Pinkett eventually received her breakthrough with the starring role of Professor Carla Purty, alongside Eddy Murphy, in the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor. Her highly acclaimed performance, united with the wide publicity about the film, put Pinkett on the map.
After the comedy film, she landed roles in a string of victorious movies, including costarring as female bank robber Lida 'Stony' Newsom in Set It Off (1996, with Queen Latifah), making a cameo in Scream 2 (1997, received a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination for Favorite Supporting Actress – Horror) and playing the title character in Woo (1998). In 1998, she also appeared in the drama/romance Return to Paradise (1998, starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche) and starred in the short film Blossoms and Veils (1998, helmed/written by Shonda Rhimes).
In the new millennium, Mrs. Smith costarred with Damon Wayans and Savion Glover in the successful Spike Lee's highly controversial Bamboozled (2000) before returning to a serious role as the harridan wife of a guy whose father has died in Doug McHenry's Kingdom Come (2001, opposite Whoopi Goldberg). Pinkett then earned an Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. In 2001, Pinkett also teamed up with husband Will Smith for the 2001 biopic Ali, in which she portrayed the first wife of Mohammad Ali, Sonji.
A year away from film, Pickett’s career received another boost in 2003 with her role in The Matrix Reloaded (2003), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), portraying the role of Niobe. She next was featured as the love interest of Jamie Foxx in the thriller Collateral and provided her voice for Gloria the Hippo in the animated film Madagascar (2005). Pinkett also rejoined Queen Latifah in Bad Boys (2005).
Already acting, Jada Pinkett also branched out to music. Pinkett has contributed soundtrack songs for the motion picture Matrix Reloaded. In 2004, along with her rock-soul band Wicked Wisdom, she became the opening act for Britney Spears's Onyx Hotel Tour, for eight concert dates in Britain.