What is it about Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith that had celebrities and fans alike wishing, hoping and praying that rumors about the couple’s romantic demise were untrue?
Relationships end all the time, especially celebrity unions. Movie franchises like Final Destination or Big Momma’s House continue longer than most Hollywood marriages. Oftentimes, the news that a couple has called it quits barely registers.
Recently celebrity couple Chanté Moore and Kenny Lattimore split, as did Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, but fans’ reactions to these divorces weren’t nearly as intense as they were when rumors about the end of Will and Jada’s marriage circulated.
Fans were literally in an uproar over the gossip, causing Will and Jada to become a trending topic on Twitter.
Many seemed more shaken by the alleged breakup than they did a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that happened that same day. Instead of completely forgetting about the rumors after the earth shook, some joked that Will and Jada’s alleged breakup was the cause.
To paraphrase one Twitter post, it was personal.
Of course there’s the fact that many of their fans grew up with Will and Jada. Many fans remember them when they were barely more than teenagers. Will hopped around music videos with his baseball cap cocked to the side rapping about nightmares on Elm Street and how parents didn’t understand. Jada was a co-star on one of TV’s most popular sitcoms. Her Lena character on “A Different World” was outgoing, fearless and funny. Each of them has a place in pop culture history.
Decades later, they still have thriving careers and have had very little Hollywood drama throughout their lives. Neither ever seemed to jump from public relationship to public relationship. There haven’t been reports of incidents with drugs or curbside rendezvouses with women who might’ve been men. Have they ever even been arrested?
Then, there’s the family: Trey, Jaden and Willow. Although the Smiths have been criticized for putting their youngest children in show business too early, the two are flourishing and seem better adjusted than most privileged Hollywood royalty … so far.
Oh, and let’s not forget that they’ve gone on record declaring that divorce is not an option for them and their sitcom “All of Us,” which they produced, was proof of how they could make a blended family work. They’ve made it clear that they’re in it for the long haul, and without even realizing it, many fans are rooting for their marital success. The two have verbalized a commitment to one another that the public doesn’t often hear from celebrity couples.
In short, Jada and Will seemed to be beating the odds and living a fairytale life.
It seems silly, but obviously for some fans, they were more than just another celebrity couple; they were Black love personified. They stood as proof that even with hectic careers, a baby mama, kids to raise and vocal haters, two people could make it work.
So the false news of their demise was more than some people could handle. It didn’t only mean that Will and Jada had failed, it meant that Black love was doomed.
Although the rumors were likely very irritating for the stars, who released a statement later that day denying the reports, they should be a bit flattered that the world cares so much about their union.
Not since Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis has there been a Black Hollywood couple that was so revered by the community. It’s questionable whether folks would be more or less upset about the breakup of Barack and Michelle Obama.
One thing is for sure, if they didn’t know it before, the Smiths know now that there’s a lot riding on the success of their marriage. It’s not just about them or their family. Just like Will’s iconic "Fresh Prince" alter ego and Jada’s memorable characters, their marriage has become larger than they are, and like the title of their sitcom suggests, it’s now about all of us.
Watch this "Access Hollywood" chronicle of Will and Jada’s relationship.
Click on the thumbnails below for larger images of the couple.
—Tracy L. Scott