CATEGORIES Interviews
"Sometimes you get upset, especially when people are cruel, but there hasn't really been anything that could get Will and I really off our rockers."

Jada Pinkett Smith made a name for herself on TV's 'A Different World,' 'Menace II Society' and playing the love interest in 'The Nutty Professor,' but the 'Madagascar' films might be her biggest role (literally) to date.

Pinkett Smith provides the voice of Gloria, the hippo with a heart of gold, for the movie's sequel, 'Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,' with her daughter Willow voicing baby Gloria. Gloria and the gang -- Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock) and Melman, the world's only hippo-loving giraffe (David Schwimmer) -- make an unscheduled stop on their way back to New York City and discover they've got a lot to learn about where they came from.

Pinkett Smith opens up to Moviefone about what she loves about playing large-and-in-charge Gloria, why her kids with hubby Will Smith don't even receive an allowance and which of those pesky tabloid rumors bothers her the most.


Jada Pinkett Smith Interview for Madagascar'

    Jada Pinkett Smith made a name for herself on TV's 'A Different World,' 'Menace II Society' and playing the love interest in 'The Nutty Professor,' but the 'Madagascar' films might be her biggest role (literally) to date.

    Pinkett Smith provides the voice of Gloria, the hippo with a heart of gold, for the movie's sequel, 'Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,' with her daughter Willow voicing baby Gloria. Gloria and the gang -- Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock) and Melman, the world's only hippo-loving giraffe (David Schwimmer) -- make an unscheduled stop on their way back to New York City and discover they've got a lot to learn about where they came from.

    Pinkett Smith opens up to Moviefone about what she loves about playing large-and-in-charge Gloria, why her kids with hubby Will Smith don't even receive an allowance and which of those pesky tabloid rumors bothers her the most. --By Maggie Furlong

    Gregg DeGuire, WireImage / Getty Images

    1. Sequels are usually not as well received as the original, but 'Escape 2 Africa' is even cuter than the first one ...

    You know, I'm hearing that a lot! It's a lot of fun, and I think when you can make a sequel and people can enjoy it even more than the first one, that's quite a success.

    Dreamworks

    2. What is it about Gloria the Hippo that you love so much?

    I love that she's large. I've always wanted more body, and I got it with Gloria. [Laughs] She is full-figured and is throwing it around with all types of confidence and I just think that's fantastic. I think for every girl and every woman, one of the major lessons we must learn is just to accept ourselves for who we are, because that's what we got. That's it! And part of it is accepting our physicality. I just love that Gloria loves herself.

    Dreamworks

    3. There were some new additions to the voice cast this time around -- did you get to hang out or record with Bernie Mac or Alec Baldwin or Will.i.Am during production?

    No, it's too bad, but we never get to record together -- it's all separated. I actually just met Will.i.Am today ... I didn't get to hang out with him at all.

    Dan Steinberg, AP

    4. There's already been talk of a third 'Madagascar' -- would you be on board? And what would your dream destination for that one be?

    Absolutely. If Jeffrey [Katzenberg] wanted me to do it, I'd be there with bells and whistles. What is that island? Mauritius! [Laughs] I'd be like, "Jeffrey, we need to go there -- I need to feel it. See, I've been to Africa so I know what that is, but we gotta figure this out. I need to know this." [Laughs]

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    5. What role in your career are you most proud of? And do you have a dream role?

    I don't think I've done it yet! I think I have yet to achieve that one. I did have a dream role ... I think it's changed quite a bit. I really just eventually want to become a really fantastic writer-director. That's my dream right now. I think in between there, I'll find a character that I can go off and do real quick that can bring me some joy and pride. I'll never give up acting ... ever.

    Valerie Macon, Getty Images

    6. So you're looking for more projects like 'The Human Contract,' your recent feature-film writing and directorial debut?

    Oh, yeah! That would be a piece I'm really proud of. Just the idea that it's an erotic drama and something that I directed and wrote -- we're doing the [festival] circuit right now. So I would say that 'Human Contract' is probably what I'm most proud of up to this point.

    Gregg DeGuire, WireImage / Getty Images

    7. And you got to work with Paz Vega ... is she one of the most underrated actresses or what?

    She is phenomenal! Working with her was a dream, it really was. And Jason Clarke, who's about to star in 'Public Enemies' with Johnny Depp that Michael Mann directed. It was a difficult project -- it's very emotional -- and they were both incredible. I love actors ... and I created a piece where they both had a lot of work to do. [Laughs]

    Jeff Vespa, WireImage / Getty Images

    8. You're also acting and executive-producing an upcoming TNT drama series called 'Time Heals,' playing a nurse and single mother. Isn't it nice that all these cable networks are starting to have original programming?

    Yes! And also giving women real voices. For me, this particular character just stood out. I'm excited being in front of a camera again with this character. I think I'm always gonna be in front of the camera in some capacity, but I also feel like I have a huge responsibility behind the camera. You know, [our company] Overbrook just got finished directing 'Secret Life of Bees' and that was a very, very important movie for me to be a part of. I'm trying to find projects that I can get some muscle behind and get made and get a home for. There's a lot of great projects out there for women with really strong voices, and there's an audience, you know?

    Jim Spellman, WireImage / Getty Images

    9. You're a busy lady -- how do you balance work, family, music, having a life?

    You know, I just put one foot in front of the other. First of all, I make sure to take care of myself spiritually, so I'm always happy. And not always happy in a sense of smiling, but like, to get the purpose of my life, my family, my marriage -- that's what motivates me. When I understand what my purpose is, it makes it very clear why I do what I do. I want to have a fulfilling marriage, I want to have happy kids, I also want to have a fulfilling career and I want to make change in the world -- and I'm not willing to compromise that. So if you're not willing to compromise, then you just gotta make sure you make it happen on every level. Let me tell you -- sometimes I feel like it's gonna kill me, you know? But at the end of the day when I survive and I look at what's been done, I go, "There you go, Jada. You can do it."

    David Livingston, Getty Images