The actress set to release her book Worthy on October 17th, told PEOPLE in an interview that “no, I haven’t talked to Chris” since the March 27, 2022, when her husband Will Smith struck him onstage at the Oscars after taking issue with a joke made about Jada.
“[Do I have] any desire to talk to Chris? Here’s my desire: I just hope that all the misunderstanding around this can be cleared up and that there can be peace,” she adds.
“I talk about this in the book, I think that there might be some misunderstanding between Chris and I as far as the 2016 Oscars. I think that he might’ve taken offense, which I meant no harm in offending. That wasn’t my intention. But I do think that there’s a big misunderstanding there,” says Jada, 52.
Back in 2016, Will was not considered for his Concussion performance with The Academy also overlooking actors of color. Jada was vocally in support of the #OscarsSoWhite movement and called out the show.
Chris Rock, who hosted the show that year, made jokes about Jada in his monologue. In addition, Chris claimed that Jada told him he should have dropped out of hosting the opportunity in solidarity.
Jada admits to “not really recognizing the level of pressure [Chris] might’ve been under” at the time.
“I probably should have called him and gone, ‘Hey, are you okay? And just know that although I’m speaking out about the Oscars, I do wish you the best and I just want you to know that,’ me taking the time to have called him and said that, just to touch base. But his feelings might’ve been hurt,” she says.
But, Jada adds, “All we can ever do is just look at our part and see where could I have done something that would’ve seemed as if… Whatever misunderstanding might’ve been created, what could I have done to avoid that misunderstanding? The one thing that I think about is that call.”
After some time, Chris called her the same year and she had thought they moved on from the incidents.
“He apologized and I apologized to him as well,” she says. “So I actually thought that we were good, that the hatchet was buried between us. And we hadn’t talked since then, until 2022 came.”
Shortly after the incident from the slap, Chris also came downstage to speak to Jada to apologize during a break.
“Chris came down to the end of the stage and tried to apologize to me. He said, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm.’ I said, ‘I can’t talk about this now, Chris. This is some old s—.’ I thought this was [about] the Oscar 2016 and … their stuff that they had before I even came into the picture in the late ‘80s. I’ve got to leave that to Will and Chris to talk about, but they got their stuff for sure.”
“I mean, that’s what comedians do,” says Jada. “I would just have to say that I am not really here to make any judgment on how people decide to express themselves and express their art. I’ll say that several times I’ve had my feelings hurt, for sure. I’ve had my feelings hurt a lot by Chris. But at the end of the day, too, being in the spotlight, it comes with the territory.”
Jada even reveals in her book that Chris once asked her on a date.
Explaining more to PEOPLE, she says: “I think every summer all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce. So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumors.’ He was appalled. And he profusely apologized and that was that.”
Jada also revealed on the Today Show that she and Will have been separated for seven years. Jada confirmed that it wasn’t a “divorce on paper” but “byt the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying.”
Yet, reflecting on the night of the slap, Jada admitted that she thought it was a ‘skit’ at first.
“From where I was sitting I couldn’t tell. It didn’t look like Will hit Chris, because, number one, I’d seen Will in the boxing ring with pro fighters — Will’s a heavy-hitter. So when Chris moved, it looked like he ducked or he missed the shot. And when he continued to stand, and then when he continued to walk down to the end of the stage, I was like, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way that Will hit him.’ ”
She adds, “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit. I was in as much of a fog as anybody else in that room that night.”