Jada Pinkett Smith stars in TNT’s series “HawthoRNe.” (Photo courtesy of TNT)
|Christina Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett Smith) will marry Tom Wakefield (Michael Vartan) this season in “HawthoRNe.” (Photo courtesy of TNT)
Jada Pinkett Smith stars as Christina Hawthorne in TNT’s medical drama “HawthoRNe.” In the role of chief nursing officer at James River Hospital, Christina is forced to juggle the roles and subsequent relationships that are demanded of her as a professional, mother, friend and love interest.
Pinkett Smith notably serves as executive producer on the show through Overbrook Entertainment following her initial foray into the role of executive producer of the “The Secret Life of Bees” starring Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning.
The film captured hearts and went on to win two NAACP Image Awards along with two People’s Choice Awards. More recently, Pinkett Smith produced the global blockbuster “The Karate Kid” starring her son Jaden. Beyond the medium of film and TV, Pinkett Smith, her husband Will Smith and record industry mogul Jay-Z produced the three-time Tony Award-winning musical “Fela!” which went on to enjoy a run in London at the National Theatre.
As an actress, Pinkett Smith is perhaps best known for taking-charge in the hugely successful sequels “Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolutions.” In addition, she has played pivotal roles opposite Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in Michael Mann’s “Collateral,” as well as alongside Meg Ryan and Annette Bening in the remake of “The Women.”
She also teamed up with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle in “Reign Over Me,” and her voiceover work includes the role of Gloria in “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Later this year, she will return in the sequel which will also feature her daughter Willow.
Pinkett Smith is an avid writer, and her children’s book “Girls Hold Up This World” became a New York Times bestseller. A native of Maryland, she studied dance and acting at the Baltimore School for the Arts and at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Her big break came when she landed a role on the long-running NBC series “A Different World.”
Here, she talks about the premiere of the third season of her hit TNT series, “HawthoRNe,” and about the challenge of handling the title role of Christina.
Congratulations on your third season of “HawthoRNe!” How does it feel?
Oh, it feels good. It really feels good. We’re glad to be back, and I feel like we have an exciting season in store for all the “HawthoRNe” fans.
What should fans be anticipating seeing on the show this season?
They should anticipate a highly-charged, dramatic, intense season with a lot of romance and adult issues. It’s going to be a helluva ride!
Your character is marrying a white doctor this season. Are you concerned about the fans’ reaction?
No, not at all. I’ve been in a relationship with this particular doctor (Tom Wakefield played by Michael Vartan) for the last two seasons, so I’m not really concerned about that.
What’s the most emotionally challenging part about playing Christina Hawthorne?
Well, this year, the most challenging aspect of the role is the fact that Christina goes through an extreme trauma starting with the first episode. This whole season has actually been very emotional and highly dramatic, so I would say that, overall, it’s been a pretty difficult season to shoot.
What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
Our commitment. I think that’s the key quality. You just have to keep at it. People who enjoy sustained success understand the fact that you have to remain very committed to whatever it is you’re doing, especially in this instant-gratification culture.
What has been the most important moment of your life?
I’d have to say the birth of my children.
Will got to work with Jaden on screen in “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Would you like to work with Jaden or Willow?
[Laughs] I do work with them, just in a different capacity. It’s kind of hard for mommy to be onscreen at this point. Now that Jaden’s getting a little older, his needs of me are different. There’s definitely a project that he and I have talked about doing together. But first, I just have to make sure that he doesn’t need so much of mommy offscreen as well. He’s getting to that point, so I definitely anticipate doing stuff like that with both of them when they’re older.
Do you worry about the effect of celebrity on your kids, given the trouble so many child stars have handling fame?
No, this is part of their lives. They’ve been members of a very high-profile family since they were born. That’s just what it is.
How do you prioritize doing a TV series? How does it fit into your family’s extremely full schedule?
Everybody has to work around mommy’s schedule when I’m working. Everybody has to stand down, basically. Willow and Jaden can’t really do anything outside of L.A. That’s just how we worked it out.
Do you ever wish you could have your anonymity back?
Oh, I still have my anonymity whenever I want it. I have a great way of disappearing, and I’m able to do things people would never imagine. I’m often not recognized because I’m easy to hide if I change my hairstyle or put on a hat. I disappear very easily. That’s not hard for me to do.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Who is your favorite clothes designer?
What’s the best thing about being a parent?
The love of a child is different from any other type of love on the planet. And being loved by your children is a love that is immense. I’m always so overwhelmed by how much my children love me. I think the best part of being a parent is feeling the love of a child.
What’s one or two pieces of advice that you’ve given your kids about being an actor?
I try to stay out of their way and kind of just let them discover things for themselves. Our job as parents is more to keep other people out of their way, so they’re free to discover what works for them on their own.
Besides playing the title character on the TNT series HawthoRNe, which is starting its second season, Jada Pinkett Smith executive-produces the show through her production company, 100% Womon. With her husband, Will Smith, she is serving as producer of "The Karate Kid," starring their son, Jaden, and also of Fela!, the Broadway musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards. Pinkett Smith's recent film credits include "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," as the voice of Gloria, and director Diane English's remake of "The Women."
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