Lynn Elber, AP TV Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jada Pinkett-Smith turned her husband’s outburst on Oscar night into a cautionary tale about alopecia areata, a hair loss disorder that has afflicted her and millions of others that, in some cases, can affect a person’s sense of identity.
“Given what I’ve been through with my health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands of people have reached out to me with their stories,” Pinkett Smith said on Wednesday’s episode of Red Table Talk.
The actress said she decided to use “this moment to give our alopecia family the opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have the condition” and what it is. Among her guests were the mother of 12-year-old girl Rio Allred, who was bullied for hair loss and committed suicide, and a doctor who explained the various types of the disorder.
Before moving on to this topic, Pinkett Smith turned to events at the Academy Awards on March 27. She and her husband, Best Actor nominee Will Smith, were in the audience when host Chris Rock joked about Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2 can’t wait to see him,” Rock said. Pinkett Smith, who has spoken publicly about her alopecia, had a clean-shaven head like Demi Moore in the 1997 film.
Smith stepped from his front row seat onto the stage and slapped The Rock, shocking the comedian and the audience. Smith, who returned to his seat and later won an Oscar for King Richard, subsequently apologized to The Rock, but the film academy banned him from the ceremony for 10 years.
“Now, with regards to Oscar night, I really hope these two smart, capable men have the opportunity to heal, discuss this, and reconcile,” Pinkett Smith said in Red Table Talk, referring indirectly to Smith and The Rock. “The state of the world today, we need both of them, and in fact we all need each other more than ever.
“In the meantime, Will and I continue to do what we have been doing for the last 28 years, which is to continue to figure out what this thing called living together is,” said Pinkett Smith, who previously addressed the incident in a brief Instagram post that read: “It’s healing season and I’m here for it.”
The actress (Girls Trip, The Matrix films) who hosts the Facebook Watch talk show with her daughter Willow and Adrienne Banfield Norris, her mother, has revealed that millions of people live with alopecia and what she called “shame,” which surrounds him. The condition, especially in black women, can affect a person’s perception of themselves and cause them to often confront others’ perceptions of beauty, hair, race, and culture.
Rio’s mother, Nicole Ball, spoke about the impact of the Oscar incident, which happened less than two weeks after her daughter’s death.
“What is the universe doing right now? It’s crazy,” Ball recalled. “People will google: “What is alopecia… What is it that we have never heard of?” It’s not a joke.”
The disease affects up to 6.8 million people in the United States of any age, gender, and ethnic group, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and symptoms can vary.
“I think the hardest thing for me is that it comes and goes. You’re going through some kind of spell and you need to shave your head,” Pinkett Smith said.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.