NEW YORK (AP) — Jada Pinkett Smith may have started as an actress, but these days her list of jobs includes author, singer-songwriter, philanthropist, successful businesswoman — and, of course, wife and mother.
With husband Will Smith, she started Overbrook Entertainment, which has produced many of Smith's films, as well as the upcoming remake of "Annie." But Pinkett Smith's more recent focus has been the documentary "Free Angela Davis and Other Political Prisoners," which marks the 40th anniversary of the acquittal of the 1970s political activist who once on the FBI's Most Wanted list.
Davis was removed from her teaching job at UCLA in 1969 because she was a member of the Communist Party. A year later, she was charged with murder and kidnapping in a shootout in front of the Marin County, Calif., courthouse, then acquitted by an all-white jury.
"I watched it and I thought I knew the Angela Davis story, and I even thought that I knew a lot about that era, and I didn't," she said. "And I was just amazed that I didn't know more, that it was my right to have a thorough understanding of such a pivotal figure like Angela Davis and what that era was."
Pinkett Smith says she not only learned a lot from spending time with the Davis, who was by her side for this interview, but she grew as a person. Pinkett Smith is trying to spread that kind of growth to others, especially via social media, where she frequently posts on thought-provoking issues, like blended families, bullying and more.
In a recent interview, the 41-year-old spoke candidly about her many roles, from the acting world to the one she's most proud of — as family matriarch.
AP: What did you know about Angela Davis growing up?
Pinkett Smith: Oh absolutely, I knew that she was a pivotal part of the movement and I knew that she was powerful and I knew that she was intelligent, but what I didn't receive was the beauty of her feminine side, you know, and her softness, and the strength in her vulnerable nature... I've learned a lot just simply being in her presence in that way, knowing that even in my own experiences, to be able to obtain a perspective that allows me to allow my experiences to deepen me and broaden me and make me more and not decrease me. So I would say that has been a gift.
AP: You seem quite comfortable sharing your views on social media — you recently asked whether white women should be allowed on the cover of black women's magazines.
Pinkett Smith: One of the reasons that I did that is right now one of my very strong very focus at this point is trying to figure out how to engage women to flow power to one another. The idea is that there's a white woman's issue. Or there's a black woman's issue. There's a Latina woman's issue. The idea for women to understand is that if we could come together and flow each other power for issues that affect us all, that we would get a lot done. ...
These are subjects that we can't be afraid to talk about because they hurt. That's the step toward getting to solutions, and the step toward community. I don't get afraid in talking about subject matter that may spark controversy and I'm not afraid to not be liked. I think that sometimes people pay too much attention to being liked and it's paralyzing. I think that if we can respect one another, we always have to keep respect in. But I'm not expecting people to like me all the time. I've gotten out of that chain and ball (laughs) ball and chain of wanting to liked, because there are things we have to talk about that aren't easy.
AP: Your Overbrook Entertainment has been successful; tell me about your partnerships?
Pinkett Smith: What I love about our alliance with Jay Z is that we have a beautiful time going into business together which I think is a beautiful thing to show. ... Jay is always calling us and we're always calling him. Our next endeavor right now is "Annie." That's the next movie for us.
AP: Wasn't Willow supposed to star in "Annie"?
Pinkett Smith: She was supposed to star in "Annie" and Willow has decided not to. ... She decided that she wants to be 12 and says right now she's really concentrating on music skills. She's taking piano lessons, taking her singing lessons every day and writing. She's really just developing herself. ... She's taking her time to develop her skills, so when she feels like people are ready to know the real Willow, then she will make a comeback.
AP: As an actress, businesswoman, and the matriarch of a high-profile family, how do you deal with the constant rumors about you and Will?
Pinket Smith: They're quite easy obstacles. When I really think about what people are going through in the world today, and dealing with people's speculations is one thing. And knowing simply that that's all that it is. (laughs) When you're living your truth and you understand your truth, things get very easy. They get less complicated at least, so I'm very blessed. I am very blessed, so speculations I can deal with.
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