Jada Pinkett Smith Thought She'd Be Dead by 21

Jada Pinkett Smith Thought She'd Be Dead by 21

By McCarton Ackerman 10/09/12

The multi-millionaire actress says she was raised in a "war zone" of poverty and drug addiction.

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Smith is grateful she made it to 40. Photo via

Life wasn't always glitz and glamour for Jada Pinkett Smith. The multi-millionaire actress, the wife of multi-multi-millionaire actor Will Smith, has opened up about being raised in poverty by her drug-addicted mother and grandmother, claiming the neighborhood she grew up in was so rough that she expected to be dead by 21. "I grew up in a drug-infested neighborhood where you walk out each day and you just hope that you make it. I came from a war zone," she says. "There was a possibility that I wouldn't make it past 21—that was the reality. When I turned 40 (last year) it was a surreal moment because I had never imagined reaching 40." Her two children Willow and Jaden are both burgeoning musicians; Jada says she would be "terrified" to raise them in the environment she grew up in. "I wish to God I could have had the luxury to sit back and think, 'Mom, I want to go out and get my vocal lessons today because I have this new song that I want to write,' she says. "What I had to think about was, 'Oh man, I wonder what I'm going to eat tonight because there's no food here. How am I going to get to school? And is my mom going to be okay today? Will this be one more day she survives her addiction?' That's the kind of stuff I had to think about at 11."