If you have been waiting for Jada Pinkett Smith to bring the Oscar slap to the red table, pull up a chair. Though she has yet to invite her husband, Will Smith, to Red Table Talk to discuss his decision to slap Chris Rock on the Oscars stage in front of millions, Pinkett Smith did address the slap on the most recent episode of her Facebook Watch talk show while introducing a special segment on alopecia.
“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. 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 some people what alopecia really is,” she said in a message to viewers that aired before the June 1 episode.
Pinkett Smith’s alopecia — an autoimmune skin disease that can cause hair loss — has been a widely discussed topic since she announced her diagnosis in 2018, and it made headlines when Smith slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about her shaved head at the 2022 Oscars, something she also acknowledged in her opening. “Now, about Oscar night. My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out, and reconcile,” she said, refraining from commenting on Rock’s joke. “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.”
Despite the early Oscars reference, the rest of the episode barely mentioned the awards ceremony, instead focusing on an interview with Niki Ball, a woman whose 12-year-old daughter, Rio Allred, died by suicide on March 14, 2022, after being bullied about her alopecia. Ball recalled how kids at school called Rio “a naked mole rat,” “bug-eyed alien,” and “Mr. and Mrs. Clean.”
Recalling the story of her daughter’s diagnosis, Ball noted that the Oscars took place two weeks after her daughter’s death. “And I was just like, ‘What is the universe doing right now? This is crazy! People are going to be Googling, ‘What is alopecia?’” Ball said, adding that, “It’s not a joke.” She said the conversation around the Oscars helped connect her to the wider alopecia community, something she wished had happened sooner.
Clearly, this episode set the stage for why alopecia isn’t something to be made fun of. Will a Will Smith interview follow? Only time will tell.