Published on October 16th, 2023 | by Allison Kugel


Tommy Davidson Talks Jada Pinkett Smith, Tupac, In Living Color’s Legacy

Tommy Davidson on his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith:

“I just love that girl.  She’s been one of my best friends.  She’s been there for me a lot.  She was there for me the day I met my birth mother. She knew something was wrong with me that day.  I just came back from a trip where I met [my birth mother].  We were on the set of Woo and Jada looked at me and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’  I said, ‘Nothing.’ She said, ‘Something is wrong with you.’  I said, ‘Nothing is wrong with me. Let’s go shoot.’ She said, ‘No. something is wrong.  Something looks different about you.  I’m telling you, something is wrong.  What is wrong?’  There were cameras all around and people getting ready, and Jada said, ‘Come here.  What did you do yesterday?  What is going on?’  I told her, ‘I met my real mother yesterday,’ and she said, ‘Thank you! That’s a wrap for today. Go home. Come back tomorrow. You can’t just come here like that.  You need to go home and just be with that.’”

Tommy Davidson on Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and the kissing scene in 1998’s Woo:

“When any personal relationship becomes public, everyone is going to have an opinion and it is one of the things that us as talents have to deal with if we get into that area, you know?  I’ve had more negative experiences with Will than with Jada.  But I’ve also had positive experiences with both of them and they are both human to me.  When I found out the reason [Will] wanted to fight me, and I didn’t know for 15 years why he wanted to fight me, it was because he thought that I over kissed Jada in a scene.”

“Will was mad about that and I didn’t know anything about that, because they wanted me to go into a kissing scene with Jada, and I wasn’t going to do that when me and Jada hadn’t rehearsed that.  They were saying, ‘We don’t have enough time,’ and I said,  ‘I’m not doing it until she tells me it’s okay to do.  I’m not doing that without rehearsing.’ So they came back to my trailer and said, ‘Jada said to just go for it.’ I thought, ‘I’m not just going for it.  I’m going to just try to make it look real.’ It was after that scene that Will came to me and said, ‘Why did you do this to me?’  I said, ‘Okay, let’s go outside,’  and Jada said, ‘No!’  I then said to Jada, ‘Then tell him to just leave me alone.’ It wasn’t until I took that paragraph out of my book (Living In Color, Kensington) and sent it to both of them to read before I put it in the book…”

Allison Kugel: And they both approved it?

Tommy Davidson: “Both of them called me back and said, ‘Yeah.’”

Tommy Davidson on doing working with Tupac Shakur during Season 5 of In Living Color:

“Tupac was a brilliant little actor who knew himself really well on camera. He really did. The thing that struck me about him was that he was really humble and nice to me. He wasn’t like, ‘Yo, wassup man?’ He didn’t seem like that to me.  He was very humble, and he was kind of bashful. He said, ‘Hey Mr. Davidson, I just really admire your work, man. You really have done it for me, man. I really appreciate you.’  He was like that. It was warm. The sketch was scripted, but it was improved by us (laugh). Even though it was scripted, we never did that. But he could keep up. He could definitely keep up.”

On the cultural phenomenon of In Living Color in the ‘90s:

“It really was a phenomenon whose time had come. You couldn’t hold the dam back, but for so long.  And what came out of it was Blacks showing white America that we all have been laughing, and we will be laughing about the same things as long as we live here. White people didn’t laugh at that stuff until In Living Color, and Black people didn’t feel like being funny in front of them until In Living Color. Whites have been watching from the very beginning and laughing.”

“We were all in Hollywood for 6,7,8 years. Jim [Carrey] and them had been out there for 12, 13, 14 years.  So, we finally got together with [In Living Color] and we knew what it would do, because previously, TV and movies didn’t want that. They didn’t want us doing that. That was what Robert Townsend’s first movie (1987’s Hollywood Shuffle) was about.  It was about how they miscast us, how they don’t cast us, how they don’t show us. So we knew when we got on the air, we were happy because we knew. I don’t think we knew what that thing called fame was. I know I didn’t. None of us expected that.  You can’t predict that, or how you are going to react to that.”

Tommy Davidson on why Dave Chappelle felt exploited during the making of Chappelle’s Show:
“I’m going to say this.  I think there is a certain ego that your European males experience at a certain stage of having relationships with us.  They kind of become a little uncomfortable with the fact that we are equal in our humanity; that we are not outside of humanity in some suit, but we are part of humanity. And I don’t blame them. They are not in touch with the generations who had nothing. They are generations out from that. They started operating like they already had something.”

About Journalist and Podcast Host Allison Kugel
Allison Kugel is a veteran entertainment journalist and host of the Allison Interviews podcast. Watch and embed the entire interview video with Tommy Davidson @YouTube. Listen to the audio podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify. Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at

Tommy Davidson’s new single, I Know, is available wherever you stream your music. He is currently on tour with fellow comedian Katt Williams through December 2023. Visit

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