Jada Pinkett Smith broke her silence on husband Will Smith‘s slap attack on comedian Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars on the latest episode of her Red Table Talk series on Wednesday (June 1). Speaking directly to the camera, Pinkett Smith said, “My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile.”
She added, “the state of the world today, we need ’em both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring out this thing called life together.”
In one of the strangest episodes in Oscars history, during this year’s broadcast, Smith rose from his seat and slapped presenter Rock following a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Pinkett Smith has been open about her battle with the autoimmune disease alopecia, which causes hair loss; it’s unclear if Rock was aware of her condition. After returning to his seat, Smith twice yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—in’ mouth.”
And while she didn’t speak specifically about the incident that got her Oscar-winning husband banned from any Academy events for the next decade following the March 27 incident, Pinkett Smith spent the rest of the half-hour episode discussing her battle with alopecia. She said 147 million people live with the condition that causes their hair to fall out, describing the stress of having your hair grow and then disappear as daughter Willow — who has shaved her head voluntarily — and mother Adrienne Banfield Norris looked on.
Norris recalled a time when Jada had “scarring alopecia,” which caused it to look like the actress had had surgery on her skull as Pinkett Smith recalled the anxiety-producing pattern of hair growing in and then falling out over-and-over in unpredictable ways. The actress/singer also invited the mother of 12-year Rio Allread, who suffered from alopecia, to come on the show and talk about the bullying the sixth grader suffered after showing up to 7th grade with a wig; Rio took her life on March 14 of this year.
Mother Niki Ball joined the panel to talk about her daughter and share her story. “She was so smart. She was just brilliant. She was funny. She was a great big sister,” Ball said through tears. “With the hair loss, she was so strong. She just rocked it,” Ball said as a teary Willow listened intently. “Even when it was still falling out and she just had these big bald patches.” Ball described the relentless bullying from other students as Willow said, “I just can’t imagine seeing a child be treated like that and I’m the adult.”
The episode also featured a series of heartfelt messages from other people in the alopecia community promising to remember Rio’s spirit.
Watch the Red Table Talk episode below.