"What I love about the metal community is that you get to rage safely." Jada Pinkett Smith explains the unique challenges - and joy - she got from fronting her own metal band, Wicked Wisdom

Wicked Wisdom in 2006
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hollywood A-lister Jada Pinkett Smith has opened up on the challenges she faced trying to mix it up in the metal scene with her 2000s nu metal project, Wicked Wisdom.

The band, formed in 2002, was something of an anomaly in the metal scene at the time, being not only fronted by a Black woman but predominately featuring musicians of colour. It means that, when paired with Smith's standing as a major celebrity, the actress/singer was faced with some unique obstacles.

"It was really intense," she tells NPR. "I mean, at that particular time, I don't know of any other Black female in that particular genre except for [Skin from] Skunk Anansie...I had so many strikes against me. I was a woman, first of all, because even as a white woman, you have a hard time in that job. Then I'm a Black woman. And then I'm a woman from Hollywood, which is the antithesis of rock and roll, and surely metal. I was the representation of the machine itself. It's a lot of hate out there, for sure. No doubt about it. But there's also a lot of love and neutrality. And I'll never forget going to this place somewhere in Texas, where we were performing in this shack, and these kids, they didn't care. They were just happy we were there, seeing them having a good [expletive] time, with this Black band. They started moshing and that was it. What I love about the metal community is that you get to rage safely. We got to meet there in our rage and really have a good time with it.

"You get called names, people throwing bottles, people talking [expletive]," she continues. "And the neutral was like, you could win them over. If you have neutrality, there's a space for love to grow. And then as we started going, there were people who were Wicked Wisdom fans that you would never expect. I'm talking about bald-headed, tatted dudes , I'm talking about the dudes with the long hair and the bandanas and the leather vests, on the bikes, on the hogs. They were like, 'I've never seen a girl like you get down like that!', you know? I learned a lot, and I don't judge a book by its cover anymore."

Wicked Wisdom released two studio albums, 2004's My Story and 2006's self-titled follow-up, before disbanding. In 2021, Smith's daughter, Willow, reunited Wicked Wisdom to surprise her mum with a special performance on Mother's Day. It is unknown if the band will ever return at this point.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.