As if the Smiths weren’t already having the craziest week ever, after Jada Pinkett Smith and Jaden Smith called out Youtuber Shane Dawson for sexualizing Willow Smith when she was 11, they’ve been hit with what seems to be confirmation of a long-standing rumour of an affair between Jada and singer August Alsina.
Promoting his new album, The Product III: stateofEMERGEncy, August sat down with Complex for an interview with Angela Ye. While it was a wide-ranging and deeply personal interview, the part that stuck out and is making headlines was when he spoke on the Jada Pinkett Smith romance rumours.
Citing the theme of love, Angela asked about who August is linked to romantically, saying:
“..We’ve assumed certain things, I remember you put out the song Nunya and a lot of people were saying OK, August is dating Jada Pinkett Smith and that was something that was circulating as a rumour and that kind of solidified to people… so what was the real situation with Jada Pinkett Smith cause I don’t know if you were pursuing her, or you guys had just a close family type of relationship?”
August offered this sensitive, but explosive answer:
"People can have whatever ideas that they like. But what I'm not OK with is my character being in question. Contrary to what some people may believe, I'm not a troublemaker. I don't like drama. Drama actually makes me nauseous. I also don't think that it's ever important for people to know what I do, who I sleep with, who I date, right? But in this instance, there are so many people who are side-eyeing me …looking at me questionable about it... I've lost money, friendships, relationships behind it. And I think it's because people don't necessarily know the truth. But I've never done anything wrong. I love those people, literally like my family, I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. They are beautiful people. When something starts affecting my life, and not only affecting my life but my wellness, my well-being, it starts to block my heart…I don’t really have a choice but to express my truth.”
"I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation ... due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership they’ve spoken on several times...He gave me his blessing.. And I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really, deeply loved and have a ton of love for her, I devoted myself to it. I gave my full self to it. So much so that I can die right now, and be OK with knowing that I fully gave myself to somebody and I really loved the person ... Some people never get that in this lifetime. I know that I’m completely blessed."
Wow. Then Angela asked him if it was disappointing that Jada didn’t address it. He said:
“I’m only responsible for myself, what I do. When I’m repressing things and it starts to affect me I have to address it. I just always stayed silent because I never want to be the person that causes confusion, I love these people. I have literally never been in love in that kind of way so much so that being intertwined in that way, walking away from it butchered me. I’m shaking right now because it almost killed me. Not almost. It did—it pushed me into being another person. It broke me down ...trying to pull myself apart from it is probably will be the hardest thing I ever had to experience in this lifetime. It's difficult because I never want to be the person to cause confusion or step on toes, but I want to honour myself and I want to honour my authenticity. And if honouring my authenticity means you hate me, stone me, shoot me, crucify me, whatever, bury me an honest man."
Then, yesterday evening, reps for Jada denied August’s claims that Will gave his blessing as “absolutely not true.”
Like a lot of people out there, I have believed the rumours that Will and Jada have been in an open marriage, as both of them have spoken about the authenticity of their relationship, and how they honour each other as life partners. Jada told Marc Lamont Hill in 2013, “Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
She told Howard Stern that she was not Will’s watcher in 2015, saying: “He's a grown man. Here's what I trust -- I trust that the man that Will is, is the man of integrity. So, he's got all the freedom in the world. As long as Will can look himself in the mirror and be okay, I'm good."
This is why many believe that both Will and Jada appear have given us all just enough to assume they ascribe to some kind of openness and hinted that their relationship is deeper than the confines of monogamy, which if that’s the case, I think is amazing.
But is that the case? I initially was enjoying memes and jokes like this, but then I realized that a 21-year-old August at the time (2015) and an over 40-year-old Jada in some kind of relationship (whether it was romantic, the way he sees it, or mentorship the way she sees it) while she was helping him deal with the trauma of losing his sister, as well as other medical and family issues he has disclosed though the years, is a lot to unpack. August also characterized his relationship with the Smiths as “family”, and talks about Jada like a guru or some kind of spiritual guide, so this is a lot more complicated, and not just a case of open marriages and lovers.
This particular Twitter thread sums it up:
It's not just about August Alsina and his agency, or lack thereof. It's also about the behaviors of someone who indisputably had more power over him in critical aspects of their relationship, and what she did with it.— Hari Ziyad (@HariZiyad) July 1, 2020
To recap, this situation isn’t only about August Alsina and his agency, or lack thereof. It's also about the behaviors of someone who indisputably had more power over him in critical aspects of their relationship, and what she did with it.
A 40+ year old begins a relationship with a 21 year old, who is suffering from major grief & battling addiction, under the guise of spiritual care and all folks can say is â€œthey ainâ€™t got no NDAs tho?!â€— Candice Marie Benbow (@CandiceBenbow) July 1, 2020
This is how I know all yallâ€™s talk of the importance of therapy ainâ€™t real.
This is why it matters that people who are providing spiritual supportâ€”be they spiritual teachers, pastors, counselors, etcâ€”be trained, accountable to someone/a group of folks and guided by ethics matters.— Candice Marie Benbow (@CandiceBenbow) July 1, 2020
Starting a relationship with someone youâ€™re â€œcounselingâ€ is not right.
It’s hard to know exactly what was going on, but there is something to someone in a guidance role and the authority and influence that comes with it. Then there’s the added power dynamic in Jada’s favour, as the head of one of the most powerful families in Hollywood. My point is that I think we should think more deeply about vulnerability and power in all types of relationships. When people are speculating about why August is telling his truth at this time, would they be as accusatory about him doing this for clout if their genders were reversed? White men like Leonardo DiCaprio and Scott Disick openly date women decades younger than them with little backlash, so there’s also a racial element about this type of scrutiny as well.
I’m curious if the Smiths will address this beyond the denial, but more interested in the ways in which we continue the conversation about mentorship, power, and sexual dynamics.