The Red Table Talk touched on all things Houston, the subject of Crawford’s new book. But from the top, Pinkett Smith was emotional about the topic of the love and loss of a dear friend in the spotlight.
Pinkett Smith became emotional just moments in when she said: “I read your book. I was in from page one. When you — ugh, I don’t want to cry — when you said it’s a love letter to Whitney.”
She continued, “That resonated as just so powerful. It was so healing for me in so many different ways. It’s hard to love someone who has had a legacy at the level that she has had and then to lose them under tragic circumstances — ‘cause I have a very similar situation.”
While Pinkett Smith didn’t say who she was talking about, viewers quickly speculated.
Later in the interview, Pinkett Smith later fought back tears when talking about Houston’s drug use, the singer’s marriage to Bobby Brown and Crawford’s decision to distance herself. She had to take a moment to compose herself.
“When you made the decision to walk away,” she said about 19 minutes through the show, “I can only... I know...“
She finally got out what she was trying to stay: “I know the depths of that struggle, having had to do it as well.”
It was when Crawford discussed Houston becoming angry after she finding out Crawford kissed one of her female backup dancers that Pinkett Smith mentioned Shakur by name.
"That I understood because of the complex relationship I had with Pac,” she said. “In those moments of his, 'Who's that?,' knowing damn well there ain't nothing like that between us. Him feeling like, 'You're the only stability I got. I can't afford for you to put that attention elsewhere.' For him, we were an anchor for each other. Anytime he felt like that anchor was threatened, oh my God."
At the end of the interview, Pinkett Smith thanked Crawford, saying “We have a very relatable circumstance ... so this was good for me.”
Pinkett Smith, who has been married to Will Smith since 1997, became friends with Shakur during their pre-fame days in the ‘80s when they attended Baltimore School of the Arts together. While she told Howard Stern in 2015 they had “strong feelings” — and even shared a kiss — “there was no physical chemistry.”
Although the two were extremely close, they had a falling out before his 1996 murder, with Pinkett Smith explaining to Stern, “He felt as though I had changed. I’d gone Hollywood. I’d gone soft. And looking back now, I totally understand where Pac was at the time. It was a mentality he started to come out of before he was murdered.” She added that she thought he was going in “a destructive direction.”
In an interview with MTV in June, Pinkett Smith said, “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Pac.”
There were similarities in Crawford’s story. In her new book A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, she talks about meeting Houston, then 16, at age 19. The two became the best of friends and eventually developed a romantic relationship. But two years in, Houston called it off — saying it would interfere with her plans for stardom. Crawford said she was OK with the decision at the time because she just wanted Houston, whom she loved deeply, to succeed. And for 20 years, they were the best of friends — with Crawford on Houston’s payroll serving as her gatekeeper.
Crawford said that she and Houston never felt any “shame in the physical moments that we shared” early on and recalled their first kiss as “awesome.” She added, “We weren’t hiding the physical aspect of our relationship.”
And she “wasn’t blindsided” when Houston said the physical part of their romance had to end in 1982. “We knew it would interfere with what she was born to do.”
Crawford has talked about the Bible that Houston presented when she told her they had to end their sexual relationship — and she brought it with her to the interview, showing their names signed together.
Crawford also spoke about Houston’s dysfunctional marriage to Brown and how Houston came home from her honeymoon with a three to four-inch scar on her face. While Houston tried to explain it away by saying she threw a glass at a wall and it shattered, Crawford cast doubt on the story saying: “Flying glass doesn’t do that.”
Eventually, Crawford decided she couldn’t take it anymore and quit. “I never believed I was leaving Whitney,” Crawford said. “I needed her to stop and think about herself and where we were.” She says by that point Houston, who had a serious drug dependency, was surrounded by so many people that the situation had become “out of control” and the singer had “lost focus.”
Crawford thought her quitting would be a wakeup call. “I never once believed she would fall,” she said of Houston’s death. And she said Houston’s death still haunts her. Not only because Houston drowned and Houston was a strong swimmer or because of the drug paraphernalia in her hotel room, but because she doesn’t think Houston should have been alone.
“You have people working for you. Where the hell are they?” Crawford said. And while she’s not sure she could have saved her, “What I do know is that she would not have been alone.”
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