Remember when Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for Ali but he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith disappeared from the ceremony before the Best Actor category was announced? The couple had gotten word that their daughter, Willow, was running a high fever, and they didn't think twice about missing their moment in the spotlight. "It wasn't even a question of whether we would leave," she says now. "It was a question of how fast we could get out of there. The priority in our relationship is family. That's already been established. Everything else is secondary, so it wasn't a big deal for us."
After years of marriage and three kids (Jaden and Willow, plus Trey, from Will's first marriage), the Smiths' lives still revolve around the needs of what Jada refers to as "a huge community of extended family." They juggle acting assignments -- Jada is voicing a hippo in Madagascar, a summer 2005 animated movie release co-starring Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, and Will's romantic comedy Hitch debuted just before Valentine's Day -- and serve as executive producers of the UPN-TV series All of Us, a comedy loosely based on their own blended family.
Now the actress, best known for her roles in the second and third Matrix films, Collateral, and The Nutty Professor, can add "author" to her resume: This month, Scholastic will release her first book for children, Girls Hold Up This World, with photographs by Donyell Kennedy-McCullough. A poem that celebrates the special gifts of young women, Jada's text challenges girls to do their best and live with pride. "Kindness takes hard work -- this is a lifelong lesson," she writes. "Give from your heart, and each day will be a blessing." The book is very much a family affair: Willow poses with her mom on the cover, Jada's mother, Adrienne Jones, is featured inside, and the dedication page includes a striking portrait of Jada's late grandmother, Marion.