Writing for The Root, the Burton Wire‘s founder & editor-in-chief Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., interviews Jada Pinkett-Smith about the process of making Magic Mike XXL. Anti-sex trafficking advocate, Pinkett-Smith explains the reservations she had about taking the role, and why she made the difficult decision to star in the film examining the world of adult entertainment. Check out an excerpt below:
Jada Pinkett Smith has had one heck of a career. The dancer-turned-actress, who got her start on NBC’s A Different World and a slew of roles in 1990s films (Menace to Society, Jason’s Lyric, Set It Off, The Nutty Professor), has risen to A-list status, navigating her way through the precarious maze of Hollywood and the music industry to de facto stardom. A graduate of the illustrious Baltimore School for the Arts, the triple threat has worked steadily in television (Hawthorne, Gotham), films and as lead singer of her metal band, Wicked Wisdom.
Through it all, Pinkett Smith has remained accessible to the public, offering words of advice, encouragement and her sometimes controversial perspective to her fans through a very active social media presence. Pinkett Smith is also an activist, whose causes include fighting human trafficking. Pinkett Smith is producing, with CNN, a documentary on sex trafficking, Don’t Sell Our Bodies, scheduled for release in July.
So Pinkett Smith’s decision to star in Magic Mike XXL may seem perplexing, since many believe that adult entertainment is a gateway to human trafficking. Why would someone committed to exposing the horrors of sex trafficking make a film about male entertainers? Pinkett Smith’s decision to take on the role of Rome, a sexually liberated DJ in the adult-entertainment world, was not done haphazardly.
The actress recognizes the contradiction and addresses it head on when asked if there were any reservations about taking the role.
“I had some reservations because of my work in human trafficking,” says Pinkett Smith. “Through my work, I realized that the sex industry is going to exist. There’s no eradicating it. Instead of focusing on shutting down this industry, I’m really into the idea of bringing responsibility to it.”
Actor Channing Tatum, star and producer of the franchise, was a male entertainer (stripper) before Hollywood called. Pinkett Smith says that talking to him about his past experience gave her more insight about the industry. Her knowledge of human trafficking, coupled with his experiences, made for a “beautiful partnership,” she says. “There are certain things he understands about the industry, the ins and outs, and there was a certain knowledge that I was bringing from my human trafficking advocacy as well. It’s a radical idea—really radical—but I felt like it was important to take a shot.”
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Read the article in entirety at The Root.