Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Relationship Timeline

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The couple got married in 1997 and have been candid about their relationship highs and lows through the years

<p>Kevin Mazur/WireImage</p>

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been together for over two decades.

After meeting in the early 1990s, the couple went public with their relationship in 1995 before tying the knot in December 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Since getting married, Will and Jada have expanded their family, welcoming their son Jaden Smith in July 1998 and their daughter Willow Smith in October 2000. Will also has a son named Trey Smith with ex-wife Sheree Zampino, whom Jada has affectionately referred to as her “bonus son.”

While Will and Jada have cemented themselves as a Hollywood power couple over the years, they have also been incredibly candid about the various highs and lows in their relationship.

In a new interview with PEOPLE published in October 2023, Jada gave more insight into her marriage with Will, revealing they had been separated for six years before the Oscars in 2022, at which Will infamously slapped Chris Rock on stage.

“We’re still figuring it out,” Jada told PEOPLE of the state of their marriage. “We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together. We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us.”

Read on for a look back at their relationship timeline.

Related: Jada Pinkett Smith Breaks Silence on Marriage, Oscar Slap and Her Path to 'Self-Acceptance' (Exclusive)

1994: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith meet on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The couple first met in 1994 on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when she auditioned for the role of his onscreen girlfriend, Lisa Wilkes. Though she didn't get the role, they eventually started dating following the actor's seperation from Sheree Zampino.

Will told PEOPLE in 1996 that his connection with Jada came as “a huge surprise,” noting, “You don’t know about all the walls you build up in your mind and heart until someone comes along and tears them down. Outside of my mother, Jada’s the first person with whom I can share what I think and what I feel so freely.”

September 22, 1995: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith make one of their first appearances as a couple


Will and Jada went public with their romance in 2015, with one of their first appearances being the Devil in a Blue Dress premiere that September. At the time, the two walked hand-in-hand down the red carpet.

November 1997: Will Smith proposes to Jada Pinkett Smith

In November 1997, Will popped the question and Jada said yes. “We were just lying there, going to sleep,” Will later told PEOPLE about the proposal in February 2005. “I looked over at her, and I said, ‘Hey, we might be real good married. Wassup? You wanna marry me?’ Unplanned. No ring. Not the classic proposal. She said yes. It's really weird when you live the kind of lifestyle that we live: Simplicity becomes the jewel.”

Shortly after getting engaged, the couple found out they were pregnant with their first child. “One day we got engaged,” Jada told PEOPLE in 1997, “and the next day we found out we were pregnant.”

December 31, 1997: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith get married


On New Year’s Eve, the couple tied the knot in Baltimore, Maryland. Jada was three months pregnant at the time.

To prevent leaks to the media, no invitations were sent. Instead, guests were put up in the posh Harbor Court Hotel and the Tremont Plaza and given envelopes the morning of the ceremony with directions for their limo drivers.

“There were no jitters,” Virginia Remsberg, property coordinator for the Cloisters, told PEOPLE about the nuptials. “Everyone was just laughing and talking.”

July 8, 1998: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith welcome their first child together


The couple welcomed their son Jaden Smith in July 1998. It was the first child for Jada and the second for Will, whose son with ex-wife Sheree Zampino, Trey, was born in 1992.

October 31, 2000: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith welcome their second child together

Almost two years after welcoming Jaden, the couple welcomed their second child, a daughter named Willow Smith.

February 2005: Will Smith opens up about his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith to PEOPLE


While promoting his romance film Hitch in 2005, Will opened up to PEOPLE about his relationship with Jada, revealing details about their first date.

“We'd known one another for a long time. Our first date was completely about talking, so the place wasn't even important,” Will explained. “The first time we had a chance to really talk, we both knew very seriously that there was potential for some heat.”

On how he prepared for the date, Will added, “There wasn't a lot of research to do because I'd seen her TV shows and movies. And we had two mutual friends sort of brokering our relationship. . . . I was one of those guys who always had a reconnaissance team to make sure that the girl liked me before I even approached. If there was somebody I was vibin', it was always about somebody else arranging the interaction.”

2008: Jada Pinkett Smith discusses her and Will Smith’s parenting style with PEOPLE

<p>Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic</p>

Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic

Speaking with PEOPLE in 2008, Jada gave a glimpse into her and Will’s blended family. On their parenting style, she told PEOPLE, “We’re not strict but we definitely believe [boundaries are] a very important component for rearing children. It creates safety for them. They understand that they need guidance.”

Related: Will & Jada Smith's Tight-Knit Family

April 2013: Jada Pinkett Smith addresses rumors that she and Will Smith have an open marriage


In 2013, Pinkett Smith told HuffPost Live, "I've always told Will, 'You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK. Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I'm here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that's not for me to do for him. Or vice versa."

When some interpreted the comment to mean that the duo had an open marriage, she clarified on Facebook, "Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE...for us??? Here is how I will change my statement...Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship...this means we have a GROWN one."

She added, "[Will is] my best friend. He's been by my side through some of the most difficult parts of my life. And so that's something you can never take away."

August 2015: Will Smith shuts down divorce rumors

Amid divorce rumors in 2015, Will took to Facebook to address his marriage to Jada. "Under normal circumstances, I don't usually respond to foolishness. (Because it's contagious) But, so many people have extended me their "deepest condolences" that I figured - "What the hell... I can be foolish, too!" he wrote at the time.

"So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness... Jada and I are...NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! : -) I promise you all - if I ever decide to divorce my Queen - I SWEAR I'll tell you myself! #‎Dumb People Should Have to Wear Scarlet D's."

December 31, 2017: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith celebrate their 20th anniversary


As the couple celebrated 20 years of marriage, Will posted a heartfelt tribute to Jada on Instagram, including a throwback photo from their wedding day.

“20 Years Ago Today we held hands and walked naively down that aisle. Here’s what I’ve learned since,” he began the post. “Love is Like Gardening. I have learned to focus on HELPING you to BLOSSOM into what YOU want to be (into what you were born to be)… Rather than Demanding that you become what my Fragile Ego needs you to be.”

He also added, “I’ve learned to take pleasure in Nourishing YOUR dreams… Rather than wrestling with you to Fulfill my Selfish Needs & Satiate My Insecurities.”

“I have learned that Love is Listening. Love is Giving. Love is Freedom,” he continued. “Happy Anniversary, My Queen! I am forever Devoted to Nurturing your Deepest Truth.”

Related: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Relationship in Pictures

July 2018: Will Smith reveals he and Jada Pinkett Smith don’t say they’re “married” anymore

During an appearance on TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast, Will revealed that he sees his longterm relationship with Jada as so much more than just a marriage.

“We don’t even say we’re married anymore. We refer to ourselves as life partners,” he explained on the show. “Where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life. There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do — ever. Nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support till death, you know what I mean, and it feels so good to get to that space where you’re not complaining, and worrying, and demanding that a person be a certain thing.”

Will continued, “This right now is the best time in my life, ever, I’ve never been happier.”

July 2020: Jada Pinkett Smith reveals she had a previous relationship with August Alsina while separated from Will Smith

In 2020, Jada revealed she had a previous romantic relationship with August Alsina while she and Smith were separated in 2016. Several years later, the couple discussed what they referred to as Jada's "entanglement" during an episode of her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk.

"I wasn't sure I was ever going to speak to you again," Will said while discussing their separation. "Like the fact that I'm speaking to you again is a miracle. [Marriage] ain't for the weak at heart. There's just certain things that you have to go through. I wish it could be all magic and miracles."

September 2021: Will Smith candidly discusses his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith


Following Jada’s shocking revelation about her “entanglement” with August Alsina, Will discussed his marriage to Jada even further during a candid interview with GQ.

As GQ's Wesley Lowery noted in the profile, "Because the impetus for the Red Table Talk was Alsina's disclosures, a viewer could have walked away thinking that Jada was the only one engaging in other sexual relationships." However, Will "delicately explained" to GQ "that was not... in fact the case," wrote Lowery.

Though Will declined to provide further details to the magazine, he did reveal new information about his marriage to Jada in his memoir, Will. "Our marriage wasn't working," Will wrote, according to GQ. "We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly something had to change."

He went on, "Jada never believed in conventional marriage ... She grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection."

Will concluded, "We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can't be a prison. And I don't suggest our road for anybody. I don't suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we've given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love."

November 2021: Will Smith reveals he and Jada Pinkett Smith went through a rough patch in 2011

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey in November 2021, Will admitted that the couple went through a rough patch in their relationship in September 2011, following an explosive fight at Jada's 40th birthday party. (He spent years planning it, and she felt it was a "ridiculous display of [his] ego," he recalled.)

"We realized that it was a fantasy illusion that we could make each other happy," Smith said. "We agreed that she had to make herself happy and I had to make myself happy. Then we were going to present ourselves back to the relationship already happy — versus demanding that the other person fill our empty cup."

March 27, 2022: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars after he makes a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

In March 2022, Will had Jada by his side as he attended the Oscars, where he eventually won Best Actor for his role as Venus and Serena Williams’ father in King Richard. However, his award-winning moment was largely overshadowed by his interaction with Chris Rock on stage, during which he slapped the comedian across the face for making a joke about Jada’s shaved head. (Jada lives with alopecia and has been candid about her hair loss.)

Rock, who was introducing the award for Best Documentary, joked to Smith's wife in the audience, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see ya.”

Jada looked unimpressed by the joke, but Smith took the stage and smacked Rock across the face.

"Oh wow," said a seemingly taken-aback Rock as Smith made his way back to his seat. "Will Smith just smacked the s--- out of me."

"Keep my wife's name out your f---ing mouth!" Smith yelled up to the stage at Rock after taking his seat again.

Related: A History of Will Smith and Chris Rock's Relationship Through the Years

March 28, 2022: Will Smith issues an apology about the Oscars slap

Shortly after the viral Oscars moment, Will issued an apology on Instagram. "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” he wrote at the time. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."

In addition to apologizing to the Academy, the Williams family and his “King Richard Family,” Will also apologized to Chris. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be," he continued. "There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

June 1, 2022: Jada Pinkett Smith addresses the Oscars slap on Red Table Talk

Months later, Jada also addressed the Oscars slap between Will and Chris during Red Table Talk. “My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile,” she said during the episode.

"With the state of the world today, we need 'em both, and we all actually need one another more than ever," the Girls Trip actress continued.

"Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years — and that's [to] keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening," Jada concluded.

October 11, 2023: Jada Pinkett Smith reveals she and Will Smith have been separated since 2016

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic</p>

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

In a candid interview on the Today show ahead of the upcoming release of her memoir Worthy, Jada revealed to Hoda Kotb that she and Will have been separated for seven years.

In a preview of the interview, Jada confirmed that her separation from Will wasn't "a divorce on paper," as Kotb worded it, but "by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying."

The Set It Off actress also said she "made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce."

"We will work through ... whatever," she explained. "I just haven’t been able to break that promise,"

Speaking with PEOPLE for her October cover story, Jada further detailed the state of her marriage to Will, noting, “We’re still figuring it out.”

“We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together,” she told PEOPLE. “We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us.”

December 9, 2023: Jada Pinkett Smith says the Oscars slap helped her realize she'll "never leave" Will Smith

The incident between Will and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars gave Jada unexpected clarity.

"I nearly didn’t even attend the Oscars that year, but I’m glad I did," she told the Daily Mail's YOU Magazine. "I call it the 'holy slap' now because so many positive things came after it."

Jada continued, "That moment of the s--- hitting the fan is when you see where you really are. After all those years trying to figure out if I would leave Will’s side, it took that slap for me to see I will never leave him."

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