In the GQ cover story, Will addressed the topic of his open marriage with Jada. The couple previously confirmed on Red Table Talk in July 2020 that she had an affair with R&B singer August Alsina while secretly separated from Will in 2015.
Wesley Lowery, who interviewed Will for the story, wrote, "Because the impetus for the Red Table Talk was Alsina’s disclosures, a viewer could have walked away thinking that Jada was the only one engaging in other sexual relationships, when that was not, Smith delicately explained to me, in fact the case."
While the Fresh Prince Star "had more to say" on the topic, the interviewer noted, it was clear he was "rubbing up against the guardrails that he and Jada had established about what they would discuss publicly. He told me he’d talk with Jada, but when we spoke again a few weeks later, he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to go much deeper."
Will told Lowery, “I want to help you, I want you to succeed, I want you to have a headline. But by the same token, I don’t want to deal with the backlash of that in the world."
What the Academy Award nominee would say on the topic of his marriage is that he and Jada, whom he married in 1997, have given each other "freedom" to "find their own way" because they don't want their union — which produced children Jaden, 23, and Willow, 20 —to feel like a "prison" to either of them.
“Jada never believed in conventional marriage," Will said. "Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection."
The Ali star continued, “We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”
Will has a memoir coming out Nov. 9 and Lowery had a sneak peek and noted it foreshadowed marital acrimony from the couple's early days. It said Jada didn't want a traditional wedding ceremony, but relented. That was one of many compromises she made, also including Will convincing her to move into a 256-acre compound she didn't want to live in, which became another sore spot. As Will's stardom grew, Jada would wake up many mornings in tears. She passed on opportunities for her nu metal band, Wicked Wisdom, to travel with Will for his projects. She also hated that he spent three years planning for her 40th birthday, leading to a huge fight.
Lowery said Will wrote in his book, “Our marriage wasn’t working. We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly something had to change.” However, the narrative about their relationship ended there and somewhere after that, they embarked on an open marriage.
Smith told GQ he made that decision because he didn't want to write about their marriage solely from his perspective. Besides, “It felt like it was a whole book unto itself," Will said.
Not that anything he writes will change the perception of his marriage — which has long been dissected by the public.
“The public has a narrative that is impenetrable,” Smith said. “Once the public decides something, it’s difficult to impossible to dislodge the pictures and ideas and perceptions.”
Will also spoke to the magazine being in his “f**k-it 50s” and going on a journey to find himself — and find happiness. It included traveling to Peru and using ayahuasca, plant-based psychedelic, more than 12 times, despite being mostly sober and never having smoked marijuana. He called it his "first tiny taste of freedom."
In another part of the interview, he spoke about working with intimacy coach Michaela Boehm for several years. He said he shared with her the idea that he wanted a harem of girlfriends, including Halle Berry and dancer Misty Copeland. Part of the work was for him to contact the women, though it's unclear if he did
“I don’t know where I saw it or some sh** as a teenager, but the idea of traveling with 20 women that I loved and took care of and all of that, it seemed like a really great idea,” Smith said. “And then, after we played it out a little bit, I was like, ‘That would be horrific. That would be horrific.’ I was like, ‘Can you imagine how miserable?’
He said the harem idea was really an exercise in "cleaning out my mind, letting it know it was okay to be me and be who I was. It was okay to think Halle is fine. It doesn’t make me a bad person that I’m married and I think Halle is beautiful. Whereas in my mind, in my Christian upbringing, even my thoughts were sins."
Elsewhere in the interview, Will spoke about why he disagrees with defunding the police.