Thursday June 7th, I had the pleasure of attending the premiere of Dreamworks film Madagascar 3 with my 8 year old son. The following afternoon Jada Pinkett-Smith came to the Paramount offices for an exclusive event put on by The Moms- Denise Albert & Melissa Gerstein sponsored by Capri Sun-V where there was a screening followed by an intimate Q&A with the petite mega star.
Jada got personal and even cried when sharing her stories about parenting, work/life balance and being an empowered woman. It was an inspiring conversation that left the group of mom entrepreneurs feeling uplifted, shouting, laughing and a whole lot of head nodding, affirming the wisdom Jada shared. Being a single mom I felt especially touched by her values and admire the way she hustles. Jada is a real family woman, but also follows her passions and makes time to fulfill her dreams while being an excellent model for her children.
Jada on Teaching Value to your Children:
“Before my children had the jobs that they have, we created exchange with them. You don’t get something for nothing. I taught the value of money by giving them chores and having them earn what they wanted to buy… Don’t let them just spend what’s in mommy and daddy’s wallet because they won’t appreciate it. It’s not about being strict, it’s about being consistent and making sure they understand that they have to work for what they want. I remember Willow would be doing her little chores around the house and when it came to buy something she was like ‘oh no mommy, i’m not going to spend my money on this, I’m gonna save this money’ She had a sense of value and began to understand that mommy and daddy work hard for what we have and our money does not fall out of the sky. This eliminates a sense of entitlement. “
Jada on Taking back your ME time as a Working Mom:
“Being able to understand how important keeping one’s passion alive is, is so critical. We have to take those hours for ourselves. When we do it we realize how much it feeds the spirit. Then we have so much more to give to our family. Rather than thinking we are sneaking something away from them. Every last one of us knows those hours that we can take for ourselves get taken away because we feel guilty or someone is in our ears about putting our needs aside. At the end of the day without your passion you don’t feel alive. We need to feel alive so we can give life to those that we love. If we don’t have life, we have nothing to give. ‘I’m here sitting with you but I can’t give you 100% because I don’t feel alive’ yet, if I take 5 hours to myself and come back refreshed those hours I spend with my child are ferocious! Because I’m full of life. It’s not about hours, it’s not about time, it’s about spirit and you do whatever you need to do to make sure you feel alive- by any means necessary.”
Jada on Work Ethic:
“This story brings tears to my eyes to share with you now…When my son was filming Karate Kid we were on set and I remember him doing his first full split and I looked at him and he was crying. And I went into full on mommy mode and I said “ok that’s enough stop” and he said “no, mommy I’m good” I was ready to fire the team because I felt like my son was trying to save face in the moment. Jaden stood up and said “ok let’s do it again”. In that moment I realized I had to release that ‘mommy thing’ I had to let my son put forth his determination, it was a moment of growth and maturity, and I had to allow him to develop his sense of self. He has enough faith and confidence in himself to know what he needs. I backed off and gave him that space and was so proud of him. From that moment he has been soaring.”
Jada on being a woman of color in the industry:
“I encourage my daughter to be herself. Willow creates what she creates because she is about her own individuality. Be you! There are images placed on all of us for being women, black women, white women, latin women, asian women, we all have stereotypes that we have to deal with. We have to be able to break outside of that box by connecting to your own individuality. I will say this as well, we have to be careful about what we support. The industry doesn’t make anything that people don’t support and go see. We talk about images we don’t like to see about ourselves in the industry, and yet we turn on that tv and watch it, we pay that dollar to get that CD, we pay that 5 dollars to go see that movie… I think there is more responsibility on the audience than there is on the industry, because the industry is only creating what we want to see…and that’s real.”
Jada on incorporating world culture into the home:
“We spent a lot of time in China, because that’s where we shot Karate Kid. Willow decided to take Mandarin for 3 months and when we attended the Nobel Peace prize concert and Willow sang she got to speak to the artist piano player in Mandarin. She gets the love of languages from her dad, Will is very good with language. She also loves Tokyo, which is where she gets a lot of her style sense. Jaden is a real people person, he picks up cultural things. When we went to Morocco he learned to place a hand over the heart to greet people, which I’ve actually picked up too. We love to travel as a family and definitely incorporate some of the customs we pick up into our home life.”