ET's Kevin Frazier caught up with 47-year-old actress at the 2019 Maker's Conference, an event Pinkett Smith described as one where "women get to come together and talk about issues that are important to us." It was here that she opened up about who inspired her to start her incredible Facebook Watch series.
"There were three women that were courageous enough to be super transparent with me," Pinkett Smith said of conversations prior to the launch of Red Table Talk. "Ruby Dee, Pauletta Washington, and Salma Hayek. Three."
"They were so transparent with me and gave it to me so real, and so raw that those three conversations literally changed the trajectory of my life," she revealed. "And then I was like, 'Why don't we have more conversations like this? Like, if I had had this conversation earlier I would've done something different. Like, why aren't we talking in a way in which sharing and offering ourselves? In the way that we can help each other grow, help each other have the lives that we want?'"
"That's really what made me say, 'Listen, this is ridiculous,'" Pinkett Smith continued. "Everybody's holding information all close to the chest. We really all have information for each other. [If] we would just talk to each other, we would know we're not in this game alone. We're all going through the same thing. It ain't nothing unique. It's not nothing different."
Though Pinkett Smith's open conversations with actresses Dee, Washington and Hayek all influenced the hit series, it was actually her now 18-year-old daughter, Willow, who inspired the initial idea. Pinkett Smith currently co-hosts the show with both her daughter and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones.
"It was a concept that I thought about years ago when I think Willow was maybe 11," she said. "We did it that one Mother's Day, a one off. We did one red table 'cause I was like, 'Wow it'd be great to see three generations of women sit down and have a real conversation. I want to do this as a way to celebrate motherhood."
Years after that quasi-practice episode, Pinkett Smith was approached by Ellen Rakieten, who would go on to produce Red Table Talk.
"She was like, 'What are you doing with this red table? Because I'm looking for three generations of women to talk,'" Pinkett Smith recalled. "And so that's how it all got restarted again... I just knew that there were people that were ready to have different kinds of conversations and I was ready to have those conversations. Mommy was ready and so was Willow."
Red Table Talk has become known for its no-holds-barred approach to uncomfortable conversations, including sexual assault, self harm and infidelity. Pinkett Smith, though, wasn't nervous to discuss the issues, rather considering it almost a duty after the lives she, her mother and her daughter have all led.
"I have to be honest with you, at this point in my life I'm like, 'What else is there to do?'" she said. "My mother's been through so much. She has so much wisdom and information to offer. I've been through a lot as well. And Willow, in her 18 years, has been through a lot for her generation."