Jada Pinkett Smith dated Will Smith while he was still married

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith (left) and Will Smith's ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, discuss their relationship in the debut episode of Pinkett Smith's Facebook Live show, Red Table Talk.
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith (left) and Will Smith's ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, discuss their relationship in the debut episode of Pinkett Smith's Facebook Live show, Red Table Talk.PHOTO: RED TABLE TALK/FACEBOOK

LOS ANGELES • You have seen the horror films where you flinch when a woman threatens her former husband's new partner, romantic comedies where women scorned by the same man band together to exact revenge, and reality shows where exes are nudged into the scene to try to blow up a budding relationship.

In real life, if you have to deal with your partner's ex, the ground is equally undulating, with no established social script for how to do it. The conventional wisdom is that communication is to be avoided.

Not for actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who sat down with her husband Will Smith's former wife, Sheree Fletcher, to discuss the tension that once hung between them.

In the debut episode of Pinkett Smith's Facebook Live show Red Table Talk, the 46-year-old admitted that "the beginning between us was rough".

Fletcher, 50, an actress, and actor Smith, 49, have a son, Trey, who was three when his parents divorced in 1995. He married Pinkett Smith - whom he dated before the divorce was finalised - in 1997.

A conversation like this could have been exceedingly awkward to watch. But, instead, it was quite inspiring.

Pinkett Smith and Fletcher addressed the fact that the beginning between them was hard, but they discussed it in a way where viewers could discern the love, respect and openness between them.

Pinkett Smith admitted that she was naive about how hard it is to unwind a previous marriage, especially when kids are involved.

"When Will and I started dating, I had this thing in mind. I was like: 'Well you did that, and that's done.'"

"Oh, you thought it was done?" Fletcher responded.

It was not. And now that 20 years have passed, the two women are able to admit where they overstepped - and laugh about it all.

"I had this fantasy in mind; I'm like: 'Oh, man, we're going to be one big happy family. We're just going to make this work. And Trey, this is going to be seamless for him,'" Pinkett Smith said of the beginning of her relationship with Smith.

"It hasn't been and that's been difficult."

Pinkett Smith recalled that she and Fletcher exchanged "fighting words" in the past.

But, now, it is possible to see how they have grown close over a shared love of the same child.

"Isn't it something how we can relate because of Trey?" Fletcher said.

"And I'll tell you: On this side of things, my son could not have a better bonus mum."

Fletcher recalled the time when Pinkett Smith first met Trey and how he wanted to get Pinkett Smith a present.

"That was a turning point because I did see your heart with Trey. I did see that you loved this kid, you really did. And I saw a woman who was doing the very best she could."

The feeling is mutual.

"And he's got a great mother," Pinkett Smith told Fletcher, adding that the latter "has really been one of the main people in my life who have forced me to expand in a way that was beyond anything I imagined, and I'm so grateful".

Pinkett Smith's marriage also yielded two children - Jaden, 19, and Willow, 17. But little is known about the daughter from Fletcher's second marriage - to a football player - that also ended in a divorce.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Jada Pinkett Smith dated Will Smith while he was still married'. Print Edition | Subscribe