Jada Pinkett Smith opens up about her past issues with alcohol, drugs
Actor-producer Jada Pinkett Smith, recalling her past issues with substance abuse, said passing out on the set of the 1996 Eddie Murphy movie "The Nutty Professor" became a wake-up call for sobriety.
In Wednesday's edition of her Facebook Watch panel-discussion show "Red Table Talk" — also featuring her singer daughter Willow Smith, 20, and recovered heroin-addict mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, 67 — Pinkett Smith avowed it was the sole incident of her being intoxicated at work.
"I had one incident on ‘Nutty Professor.’ I passed out" in a makeup trailer after a weekend of partying, she said. "I went to work high, and it was a bad batch of Ecstasy. And I passed out. And I told everybody that … I must've had old medication in a vitamin bottle," she added with a laugh.
Addressing her daughter, Pinkett Smith, 49, stressed that in the incident's immediate aftermath, she "got my [expletive] together and got on that set. That was the last time" that she appeared at work with her faculties impaired.
Adding more background on her social media accounts on Wednesday, Pinkett Smith wrote, "It was a moment that I began to understand that something had to change. Thank you to Judy Murdock who was my makeup artist at the time and hung in there with the young Jada that was trying to manage and find her way."
In her youth, the former star of "A Different World," "Gotham" and "Hawthorne" explained, "I was a hard-liquor drinker. Like, I could drink almost anybody under the table. … When I moved to red wine, I considered myself, like, ‘Oh … this is better for me,’ because they say red wine is good for you. But drinking red wine, for me, was like drinking glasses of water," she said, miming glugging a bottle.
After moving from her native Baltimore to Los Angeles to pursue acting, she began taking what she called "cocktails" of the pill Ecstasy along with alcohol and marijuana. "I was having me a little ball," she admitted, rationalizing that, " ‘This is not cocaine. This is not heroin.’ … I wasn't doing things that I thought [were] addictive."
Pinkett Smith advised her daughter: "That's why you have to trust the eyes around you, because you won't know. And that was the thing with me. Don't think that people didn't try to tap me on my shoulder. Don't think that when I was at [director and friend] Debbie Allen's throwing up all over her house … that she wasn't like, ‘Hey.’ But I had to reach my rock bottoms."
At some point she went "cold turkey," she added, and revealed she can no longer drink vodka or rum, and only rarely indulges in wine. On a visit to New Orleans some undisclosed time ago with her film star husband, Will Smith, Pinkett Smith recalled, she had two glasses of a drink called lavender vodka and stopped herself from having a third. "I haven't stopped thinking about that drink to this day," she said wistfully.
Concluding on a hopeful note, Pinkett Smith said wryly, "I think back on my life, [and] I'm, like, ‘Damn. I am a walking miracle!’ "