6 fascinating things from Jada Pinkett Smith’s memoir that you likely haven’t heard yet

OPINION: Yes, you've already heard about the marriage woes and insights about the Oscar slap, but there is so much more going on in Pinkett Smith's memoir, "Worthy."

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Jada Pinkett Smith’s new memoir, “Worthy,” is a page-turner that I could not put down. I thought I was going to skim through it, but every time I started to put it down, it kept pulling me back in. It’s a great book with all sorts of fireworks throughout. A lot of the leap-off-the-page revelations have been chronicled already, for example here and here but there are a lot of really interesting things in the book that you probably haven’t heard about. In no particular order:

1. Jada was really in these streets. She was a teenager in Baltimore in the mid-1980s, and she had no problem being tough. She writes: “The idea that I could gain some financial freedom by selling drugs just seemed practical to me.” Later she says, “I came to the conclusion that I could be as successful as any man.” She wanted to run her own operation. She says she wanted to be “a queenpin.”

2.  She kissed Tupac and hated it. When they were still teenagers in Baltimore, she realized that even though she felt close to him, “there was no romantic chemistry between us … at all.” Even still, one day, they tried kissing. “The kiss lasted a few seconds before we both pulled away in mutual disgust. It felt wrong … It was literally like a sister and a brother trying to make out.” She loved Pac immensely but it never became physical.

3. Prince was a mentor to her. Early in her career — shortly after the 1994 release of “A Low Down Dirty Shame” where she had a major role — Prince came to her about possibly collaborating on a ballet/opera that he was working on. She writes, “What began as his interest in possibly collaborating on some project ideas soon turned into a beautiful, lasting friendship and shifted as well into his generosity to me as a mentor.” She says his encouragement and support were critical to her growth.

4.  After Tupac was shot, his mother did not think he was about to die. In the moments after Pac was shot in Las Vegas in 1996, Pinkett Smith called Tupac’s mother Afeni who said, “He’s in a coma but he’s going to be all right.” Pinkett Smith says she “kept assuring me that Pac was going to be fine.” He was dead days later. Could that have been someone misinforming her? Could that be denial? Could that be relentless positivity? Pinkett Smith says, “Afeni didn’t think for a moment that he could actually die.” Pinkett Smith, too, had trouble accepting the idea that he could die, and when she first heard that he died, she assumed it was a lie. Once Pinkett Smith accepted that it was true, she says she felt an “intense need for revenge.”

5. Tupac’s death killed Jada’s love of hip-hop. She writes, “I never again felt the same love for hip-hop or the streets. From then on, it was all dead to me.” I can feel that. Pac’s death was an emotional breaking point for a lot of us. I still love hip-hop, but having lived through the deaths of Pac and Biggie, I can understand why some people were never again able to love hip-hop the same way. Those two deaths, just six months apart, were an incredibly painful time for hip-hop.

6. Jada loved “The Matrix” from the start. Surely, Will Smith’s biggest career mistake is turning down a starring role in “The Matrix.” The Wachowski siblings, who wrote and directed the franchise, wanted him to play Neo. He did not get the concept they were laying out. Jada says she got it right away. After Will turned it down, the Wachowskis hired Keanu Reeves, and Jada was seriously considered for Trinity. As was Salma Hayek. It’s interesting to me to think of tough-as-nails Jada as Trinity. Of course, the role went to Carrie-Anne Moss but the Wachowskis never forgot about Jada, and they later wrote a role specifically for her — in “The Matrix” sequels she plays Niobe, the tough-as-nails leader of the humans who are staging a revolution. That fits Jada.

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at TheGrio.com/starstories. He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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