‘About Oscar night’: Jada Pinkett Smith hopes Will Smith and Chris Rock can ‘heal’

Jada Pinkett Smith sits at a table.
Jada Pinkett Smith on “Red Table Talk.”
(Jordan Fisher / Facebook Watch)
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Not long after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, Jada Pinkett Smith promised that some of her family’s “discoveries around ... healing” would be shared “when the time calls.”

That time has arrived.

On Wednesday, Jada Pinkett Smith welcomed members of the alopecia community to her Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk” after that Oscars moment sparked fervent discussions about the hair-loss condition she suffers from.

“Considering what I’ve been through with my own health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands have reached out to me with their stories,” Pinkett Smith said at the top of the show.


“I’m using this moment to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to inform people about what alopecia actually is.”

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Before Will Smith walked onto the Oscars stage and smacked Rock in the face, the comedian made a joke comparing Pinkett Smith’s shaved head to Demi Moore’s hairstyle in the 1997 film “G.I. Jane.”

Prior to the awards show, the actor and TV host had been vocal about her experiences with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes rapid hair loss and affects about 7 million people in the United States, according to dermatologist and “Red Table Talk” guest Meena Singh.

“Now, about Oscar night,” Pinkett Smith continued.

“My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile the state of the world today. We need them 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.”

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After addressing the Oscars scandal of it all, Pinkett Smith opened up about the “shame around having alopecia” while telling daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris some of the personal challenges she has faced since getting diagnosed with the condition in 2018.

“The part that makes it most difficult for me is that it comes and goes,” Pinkett Smith said. “It’s stressful ... There’s so many people walking around who have alopecia that we don’t even know, so I felt like it was so important to just allow the alopecia community — our brothers and sisters — to tell their story.”


The panelists’ first guest was Niki Ball, the heartbroken mother of a 12-year-old girl, Rio, who died by suicide after getting bullied because she had alopecia areata. Rio died less than two weeks before the Oscars ignited conversations about alopecia on social media and beyond.

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According to her mother, Rio tried to save her hair with creams and injections before shaving her head completely. Though she was excited to wear a brunette wig to middle school, her classmates mocked her and ripped the hairpiece off. When she didn’t wear the wig, students made cruel comments and jokes about her bald head. Ball found her child dead on March 14.

“Not even two weeks later, the Oscars was on, and I was like, ‘What is the universe doing right now? This is crazy,’” Ball recalled.

“People are gonna be Googling, ‘What is alopecia?’ ... It’s not a joke. The alopecia community was already in an uproar. We had heard from so many people. I didn’t realize how huge and amazing that community is. ... I really wish I would have found them for her sooner instead of them coming and speaking at her funeral.”

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The Smith family also spoke with Singh, a hair-transplant surgeon who defined alopecia as “an umbrella term for hair loss” and broke down some of the most common forms of the condition. According to Singh, 1 out of 3 Black women develops traction alopecia, resulting in a receding frontal hairline that can be caused by tight hairstyles.

Other Black women are often diagnosed with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia — a “scarring, permanent, destructive” type of alopecia that can “destroy the hair follicles,” Singh said.


At the end of Wednesday’s installment, Pinkett Smith and others in the alopecia community thanked Ball for sharing her and Rio’s story.

“When I heard her story, it affected me so profoundly,” Pinkett Smith said. “I feel like I’m a part of such a beautiful tribe of alopecia communities ... Thank you once again for your courage and your strength.”