I am here for all of the piping hot tea spilled in Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk!
For those who may not be familiar, Red Table Talk is a web-based talk show on Facebook Watch hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris. The trio covers a range of topics from loss, to motherhood, to marriage and everything in between.
One of the more powerful episodes – “Girls Trippin’” – features stars Jada Pinkett Smith and Gabrielle Union-Wade having an open discussion about celebrity, insecurity, and healing.
At the top of the episode, Jada reveals that her and Union’s relationship has been strained for some years, but acknowledges she doesn’t really know why. As part of the process of working on herself, Pinkett invites Union onto the show to explore their friendship and help mend their broken connection.
Before Pinkett and Union-Wade get down to the nitty gritty, Pinkett applauds Gabrielle on a powerful speech she gave at an Essence event a year or so ago. Union’s speech revealed a lot about her journey with healing female relationships. Boiling it down to her previous insecurities, Union mentions to Pinkett that the “old her” would shrink in the presence of other powerful, black, beautiful, and successful women, and I have to say I was blown away by her comment.
I would have never guessed Gabrielle Union, the symbol for strong, successful and beautiful women, was insecure! Especially since it seems like she has it all: she graduated with honors from UCLA, she was nominated as Best Actress at the BET Awards eight consecutive years, she has guest-starred on several hit TV shows, and to top everything off she is married to star NBA Basketball player Dwyane Wade. Education, check. Career, check check. Fine NBA star husband, check check check. But according to Union-Wade, getting to this place in her life was not all rainbows and sunshine, and for much of her past her outlook on life was the issue.
Union opens up about how her low self-esteem was causing her to communicate through negativity, constantly looking for the flaws in others. During the interview, she even went as far as to call herself, “the worst part of a social media page…. a troll.”
Like so many other ladies who watched this episode, I had an Aha! moment when Union-Wade talked about the “cloak of victimhood” and how harmful and toxic that cloak can be to yourself and to those around you. Nobody wants to be around people who act helpless, but misery loves company and it is easier to pull people down than it is to build yourself up.
It was inspiring to listen to Gabrielle reflect on the role she played in creating her circumstance and to learn from her journey navigating outside of her comfort zone and outside of her role as victim.
Union went on to discuss how her pessimistic perspective contributed to her eventually hitting what she referred to as rock bottom. During this low point in her life, Union says her first marriage failed, her show was canceled, and she was losing close friends simultaneously. It was only after a conversation with a life coach, friend and personal trainer Adrienne-Joi Johnson, that she realized she needed to begin healing herself.
This highlights something we all know but often overlook – that while celebrities may have physical and financial security, they too deal with insecurities. Nobody is perfect, and Union had to learn how to be happy not only for herself but also for those around her. I truly appreciated these moments of Union’s realness, giving us an all-access look into a part of fame that not many celebrities discuss.
Pinkett reacts in shock to Union’s discussion of her low points in life and offered sympathy, saying, “Wow! I’m so sorry, I had no idea you were going through this at the time.” The gesture is deeper than the support it offered at the moment. It symbolized a larger point that we all need to exercise empathy in our relationships with other people because we never truly know what others are going through. Pinkett’s reflection led her to realize how minor her riff with Union really was, and in a poetic moment of healing she uttered in a soft tone, “I’m sorry.”
Right on brand with this episode, we see how healing female relationships can be and just how valuable it is to open yourself up to others. This moment between Pinkett and Union-Wade becomes so beautiful in its vulnerability.
Pickett’s ability to show compassion, love, and happiness for Gabrielle Union had me in tears. And for that, I give both Gabrielle and Pinkett huge applause for being open, honest, and forgiving – not only to themselves but to each other.