How Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith And Adrienne Banfield-Norris Reinvented The Talk Show

Photography by Saint/@warwicksaint

ESSENCE's March 2019 cover stars have everyone talking...literally.
Joi-Marie McKenzie Feb, 20, 2019

Although Black History Month is coming to a close, the time to reflect, admire and celebrate Black women isn’t stopping anytime soon. With Women’s History Month approaching, ESSENCE is using the month of March to shine a light on not one, but three women, who embody excellence across generations.

When Jada Pinkett Smith first sat down at her red table, encouraging not only her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris to pull up a chair, but also her daughter, Willow, to join the conversation she had no idea seven years later Red Table Talk would be a digital phenomenon.

Photography by Saint/@warwicksaint

For many, the Facebook Watch series fills a void left by The Oprah Winfrey Show, which went off the air after 24 seasons in 2011. But unlike Oprah Winfrey, who wanted her viewers to live their best lives, instead Pinkett Smith and her clan simply want viewers to open up about their lives.

Viewers can feel that the Smiths have no agenda other than offering reflective conversation; it makes viewers want to pull up their own chair and oftentimes pause the Facebook video to think about what they’ve just watched.

“Everybody has a place at the table because there’s not just one perspective,” Pinkett Smith says in our March cover story, titled Talk Is Chic. “That’s what makes the show awesome to me.”

Photography by Saint/@warwicksaint

The show has also introduced us Pinkett Smith’s mother, Banfield-Norris, whom the family lovingly calls Gammy. The 65-year-old has gifted viewers with her wisdom-peppered reflections on domestic violence, which she’s survived, and sobriety. Banfield-Norris is now celebrating 27 years sober.

The cover story also features Pinkett Smith’s 18-year-old daughter Willow, whose heavy head nods and “yeaaaaaahs” at the red table have not only spawned memes, but observations that Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith have raised a young woman, who’s already well beyond her years.

Written by ESSENCE’s West Coast Editor Regina R. Robertson, read a sample of ESSENCE’s March cover story, Talk Is Chic, now. And be sure to check out the full story when the issue hits newsstands on February 22.