Jada Pinkett Smith discusses alopecia on 'Red Table Talk,' briefly addresses Oscars slap

The actress addressed the slap at the top of a "Red Table Talk" episode.

ByJamia Pugh via logo
June 1, 2022, 7:00 PM

On Wednesday's episode of "Red Table Talk," Jada Pinkett Smith hosted an emotional conversation on alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, and briefly addressed the controversy that erupted earlier this year after her husband Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards.

Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia; her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris; and her daughter Willow Smith were joined by several guests who shared their own personal experiences with the disorder.

"This is a really important 'Red Table Talk' on alopecia," the actress said. "... I’m using this moment to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to inform people about what alopecia actually is."

During the episode, guest Niki Ball spoke about her 12-year-old daughter Rio Allred, who died by suicide after her family says she was bullied for her alopecia. Ball emotionally recalled Rio's hair loss journey and talked about how she and her family, including Ball's 7-year-old daughter Avry, are dealing with the tragic loss.

"With the hair loss, she was so strong," Ball said. "She just rocked it, even when it was still falling out and she had these big patches."

Ball said the many remedies Rio tried -- like creams and injections -- hadn't helped. In the end, her daughter decided to shave her head. "So we did and she just glowed," Ball said.

Of the many instances of bullying Rio endured, one of the last encounters she told her mother about was a "really bad day" at school when a fellow student, referring to Rio's bald head, told her to "put your hat back on, I can't stand the glare."

Learning to cope with the death of her daughter earlier this year has not been easy, Ball said.

Speaking to the table of visibly emotional hosts, she added, "I worry about all of us a lot. I feel like I have to stay strong."

PHOTO: Jada Pinkett Smith hosts "Red Table Talk" with Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith with guest Niki Ball.
Jada Pinkett Smith hosts "Red Table Talk" with Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith. The episode features Niki Ball, the mother of 12-year-old Rio Allred, who suffered from alopecia and took her own life after being relentlessly mocked and bullied, who opens up about her daughter’s heart-crushing death.
Jordan Fischer

Pinkett Smith's autoimmune disorder came under the spotlight earlier this year following the 2022 Oscars, when Rock made a joke about the actress onstage.

During the show, the comedian joked about Pinkett Smith starring in a nonexistent sequel to the 1997 film "G.I. Jane," which tells the fictional story of the first woman to enter Navy SEAL training. The movie starred Demi Moore, who shaved her head for the role.

It was unclear if Rock knew about Pinkett Smith’s condition.

Pinkett Smith's husband Will Smith got up from his seat, walked onstage and slapped Rock following the comment.

The actress briefly addressed the now-infamous moment at the top of the episode.

"Now about Oscar night. My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile," she continued. "With the state of the world today, we need 'em both, and we all actually need one another more than ever."

"Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years -- and that's keep figuring out this thing called life together," she added. "Thank you for listening."

Rock has not yet addressed the Oscars incident in full, but mentioned it in passing at a comedy show in late March, stating that he had not yet spoken with Smith, who apologized for the slap the day after the awards ceremony.

Rock said he was "still kind of processing what happened" and would discuss the incident in more detail "at some point."

Rock also referenced the incident briefly at the Netflix Is A Joke Fest in early May, after a man charged the stage and tackled fellow comedian Dave Chapelle, who has come under fire for controversial comments about the transgender community.

"Was that Will Smith?" Rock joked.

The full half-hour episode, "Alopecia: The Devastating Impact," can be viewed on the Red Table Talk's Facebook Watch page.