Why Do Celebrities Struggle With Accountability?

For more than 40 years, HMA Public Relations has provided strategic, thoughtful crisis and issues management services to organizations and brands across the globe. We have also written dozens of blog posts on both topics for more than 15 years (many available here if in need of a refresher).

But do you know who we do not provide said services to or for? That would be the Smith family.

And yes, I am talking about Will Smith’s family.

This week, Jada Pinkett Smith has been teasing the release of her memoir with People Magazine, The Today Show, and others.  Given the “slap heard ‘round the world” last year, obviously she had to address it as part of her promotional efforts. It was the perfect chance to reiterate violence of any kind is never the answer (especially given the events in the world over the past week) and to take ownership on behalf of her family, and then move on (to talking about Tupac Shakur, like she always does…) by effectively bridging.

But she did not do that.

Instead, Jada shared that she and Will have been living separate lives – going far beyond noting they are estranged or separated in any legal sense of the word – since 2016, and that she assumed the slap was a skit until she saw her husband’s face post incident.

Hmmm. Well, okay.

Except that means she was lying when she did all those Red Table Talks with Will about their marriage. For years. And about them working through her public affair. For years. And that her kids have been made to lie on multiple public stages – including her own talk show. For years. And that her entire Instagram is a farce (well, that is par for the course with Instagram). And that her entire public persona, including all of her own statements about being authentic and living a real life, is just an act. And has been for years.

An exact exchange from her interview with Hoda Kotb…

Kotb: I feel like you are a straight talker.

Smith (smugly): I am!

Kotb: Except you’re not sometimes.  

Smith (extra smugly): Yeah.

A person’s private life is a person’s private life. Except she has made hers public for 30 years. Like, overtly so. That is why this entire campaign feels yucky, inauthentic, and downright narcissistic.

Will it sell books? Maybe. But it brings up the bigger conversation about why people in the public eye refuse to swallow their egos, take a look at themselves and the issues and/or crisis they have created, and just accept accountability then offer concrete ways to move on. Do not fall into this trap with your brand.

Plan now to mitigate the pain later. We all go through issues and crisis, but with a true plan in place that everyone takes ownership in, it can prevent long-term damage to the reputation of organization; keep confidence and satisfaction among stakeholders; maintain successful employee morale; protect financial resources; save management time; and/or avoid costly litigation.

Let us help you develop a strategic, authentic issues and/or crisis plan.

Written by
at Oct 12, 2023

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