New York Magazine


Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show might be the best reason not to delete your account.

CIARA’S PUBLICISTS suck in their breath and grab each other’s forearms in the slightest of panics. Jada Pinkett Smith has just asked the singer a question about “blended families,” wondering if things are harmonious now between Ciara; Ciara’s husband, Seahawks quarter-back Russell Wilson; and rapper-producer Future, Ciara’s former fiancé and father of her 5-year-old son, also named Future.

“Is she gonna go there?” Publicist No. 1 whispers to Publicist No. 2, anxiously leaning toward the monitor in video village. We’re all watching a taping of Red Table Talk, the Facebook Watch show Pinkett Smith hosts with her 18-year-old daughter, Willow, and her 65-year-old mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, in which they sit around a … red table in their Calabasas, California, home.

Ciara arranges her face into a big, gleaming smile. She looks down and pushes back her faux-locks. She’s deciding how to answer. She and Future had a notoriously sour split in 2014, and Ciara rarely gives updates. Will she reveal some damning, or even virtuous, truth about Future that would get the episode trending on social media? All three hosts wait with their eyes trained on her.

It’s less than 15 seconds, the waiting—and when the episode airs, all discomfort is cut-and-spliced away—but right now time feels suspended like globules in a lava lamp. “I don’t think she’s gonna go there,” Publicist No. 1 whispers again. Her tone has now reached mild panic.

Pinkett Smith, 47, has only one rule for guests who “come to the table,” as she likes to say: They have to be willing to “go there.” There being the deep end of their truth and vulnerability. Her guests have to ignore the busy production team, the cameras, the fact that

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