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Exclusive: Jada Pinkett Smith Talks 'Madagascar 3,' Doing a 'Red Table Talk' with Will Smith, and Her Guilty Pleasure

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Jada Pinkett
It’s been seven years since Jada Pinkett Smith first starred in Madagascar, her first foray into the world of voice-overs and animation. As beloved Gloria the Hippo, she has certainly found her way into little (and big) kids’ hearts. Ahead of the release of the third installation of the franchise, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (out June 8), the actress spoke with ESSENCE.com about getting more comfortable as a voice artist, working on more episodes of her Red Table Talk video series, which will include hubby Will Smith (gasp!), and her guilty pleasure (we had to ask!).   

ESSENCE.com: Third time’s the charm. How did you prepare for this installation of Madagascar?
JADA PINKETT SMITH: I really didn’t need preparation in that way and I think after doing three installments I’m very used to the process now, whereas when I first started I wasn’t because as an actress you’re used to having another actor there to interact with. It’s like slipping on an old comfortable pair of slippers. You just know it and you just go for it.

ESSENCE.com: Knowing you we’re talking high-end Louboutin slippers, correct?
PINKETT SMITH: [Laughs] Nah, let me tell you, when I’m home it’s some real slippers. When I’m out here doing press, it’s something else, but at home, it’s some regular slippers.

ESSENCE.com: Martin Short is amazing as Stefano, the Italian sea lion in this movie. Were you in the room when he was recording?
PINKETT SMITH: No, I wasn’t there with Martin Short, but it’s been a real treasure to be able to work with him in the capacity of all the media that we’ve had to do together in regards to Cannes and what have you. He is just a true veteran, and it has beyond a pleasure to be besides him. I’ve been in this business for a long time – over 20 years – but he’s been around longer obviously. He knows everybody.

ESSENCE.com: Is it true you prepared for Madagascar: Escape to Africa by going on a safari?
PINKETT SMITH: No, I just happened to go on a safari, and that was really helpful. I actually got to see how majestic a giraffe is and learned that hippos are the most dangerous creatures on safari – they kill the most people. [Laughs] I was like, ‘Oh that’s interesting.’ And then there’s sweet Gloria.

ESSENCE.com: You recently released the Red Table Talk video series, which was thoroughly inspiring. Should we look forward to more?
PINKETT SMITH: Right now I’m trying to work out some TV deals—there’s talk of a television series, but I’m also trying to figure out how to keep it on the Internet because that’s where it started, and I think that’s where it will remain it’s most organic and it’s most real. So, yes, we’re gonna have other installments. It’s going to be focused on relationships of all kinds, and be a place where people come and keep it real and not be worried about being attacked. I feel like it’s so important that we keep honest and open communication because that’s the only way we can stay authentic within ourselves and really nurture our relationships.

ESSENCE.com: Do you think Will [Smith] would do one with the boys?
PINKETT SMITH: Will is going to do one with the boys probably, and he and I are gonna do one. He can’t wait. He was like, ‘you and me, next.” I was like, “I’m not mad at you, let’s do it.”

ESSENCE.com: Let’s talk guilty pleasures. What are yours?
PINKETT SMITH: French fries, and pizza… together. If I could have French fries and pizza every day I would really live off that. My real diet though, well, I don’t eat for pleasure. I probably had the only West Indian grandmother that could not cook. [Laughs] She was an awful cook, and she taught me that you don’t eat for taste, you eat for nourishment. And I have kept that over the years, so I can eat anything that’s healthy. I eat for my schedule so I have to eat high-protein, lots of greens and healthy carbs so that I don’t fall flat on my face. 
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