Wicked Wisdom

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith Takes On A New Role As Singer Of A Metal Band

She's best known for her roles in "The Nutty Professor," "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," and as wife of rapper/actor Will Smith. But now Jada Pinkett Smith has taken on her most unexpected role to date: singer of the metal band Wicked Wisdom.

"As women, we wear many different hats," Pinkett-Smith tells billboard.com. "For me, it's just as simple as when I go to the Oscars I wear one hat. When I leave that red carpet I take that hat off and put on the hat for the rock video that I have to do. That's pretty much my life, even when it's not in front of the camera. One minute you have to be the sex kitten in the bedroom with your husband, then you have to put on the mommy hat to go wake the kids up."

That wardrobe change has paid off for her and bandmates Pocket Honore (guitar), Rio Lawrence (bass), Cameron Graves (guitar/keyboards) and former Fishbone member Phillip Fisher (drums). Last week, Wicked Wisdom's self-titled debut on 100% Womon/Suburban Noize entered Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart at No. 44.

Melding speed metal, funk and melodic vocals, Wicked Wisdom began making a name for itself on last summer's Ozzfest tour.

"This is something that we've kinda done on a D.L., underground level," she says. "It's been kinda like this unraveling, this little discovery about Jada that nobody knew about. This music and this image is completely different from the persona that people know me as. It's nice when you can break down those perceptions and change ideas."

Like any actor turned musician, Pinkett Smith has found it challenging to make a name for herself on the road. But unlike most, her struggle goes beyond overcoming the fact that she's a celebrity trying to make a dent in the rock world.

"There aren't a lot of African-Americans. There aren't a lot of women. Period," she says. "I think the celebrity aspect overrides it all. That has been the most challenging part. I haven't even been able to concentrate on the fact that I'm a black female because the celebrity aspect overshadows every other strike I have against me.

"You have to give people time to decide whether it's something they want to be on board with. They'll be some people that are like, 'God, I'm glad she's doing this music, she's a better musician than she is an actress,' and some people will say, 'She needs to stick to her day job' or whatever," she adds with a laugh. "Yes, it's been difficult, but it's also been one of the most gratifying experiences to just knock people's socks off, because what I'm doing is so unexpected."

It's clear that audiences are warming up to the idea of Pinkett Smith as a rock vocalist, but what about husband Will?

"He's just been a wonderful asset in his undying support, and I can't ask for anything more than that," she says. "I don't know how many husbands could really flow like this. You know, total change of career, takin' the kids on the road, goin' to Ozzfest. I know it's been difficult for him, but he's handled it very well."

In fact, he even lent a hand as executive producer for the Wicked Wisdom album. In the end, the project was as much of a surprise to Pinkett-Smith as anyone else.

"I never dreamed I'd be fronting a heavy rock band," she says. "I've always wanted to. I grew up on rock. If somebody had a crystal ball and told me, 'Sharon Osbourne's gonna ask you to go to Ozzfest.' I'd have been like, 'You're f***ing crazy; there's no way in the world. Yeah, you trippin' with that one.'"

Wicked Wisdom is on tour with Sevendust through the end of March.