Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have a home in South Africa so it seems natural that she would feel right at home reprising her role as Gloria the hippo in "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."
Pinkett Smith, who normally appears in more adult fare, said she was thrilled to provide the voice of Gloria in the animated feature that hits theaters on Friday.
“That film was the first movie of mine my kids could actually watch," she said. "Also, I think it’s always important for women to see various images of themselves and understand that it’s all about what you project from the inside out. Gloria has so much confidence and really just loves who she is. I would hope both films send a message to young girls that it’s about how you perceive yourself that’s really important. In this movie, I get to have fun, and also maybe send a little message.”
As an added treat, Pinkett Smith got to work with her daughter Willow Smith for the first time on screen. Willow provides the voice of young Gloria. Willow, who made her screen debut opposite her dad in "I Am Legend," had a great time yukking it up on the sound stage, especially when she made a mistake.
“Because the lines…like if we mess up, it’s really, really fun, because I laugh, and then they laugh…and then it’s really fun," she said.
Most of all, Pinkett Smith enjoyed the fact that the film is set in Africa and explores roots, traditions and family ties. It's a country that she feels very bonded to.
“Africa is a very hard place to describe," she said. "It’s almost more of a feeling that it gives you versus any observation of it. I mean, it’s magnificently beautiful—I actually went on a safari. My husband says it better than I ever can when he says, ‘God visits every place else in the world…but actually lives in Africa.’ And that’s the only way I can really explain it—it’s very spiritual, and you just feel very rooted.”