Among those in attendance for Will Smith’s much-watched bungee jump into the Grand Canyon on his 50th birthday was his ex-wife Sheree Zampino. Her presence may have surprised some, especially since she was standing alongside Smith’s current wife Jada Pinkett Smith. But those familiar with the Smith family dynamic know the odd scene wasn’t odd at all for this blended family.
Zampino and Smith had a son while married, Trey, and remain close friends. Smith went as far as to publicly wish the former Hollywood Exes cast member a happy birthday on Instagram in 2018, writing “I Love You, Ree-Ree” and included the hashtag “#BestBabyMamaEver.” Of course, the post raised some eyebrows, as it did when Zampino randomly posted the same picture, because we just don’t see this type of relationship from exes very often.
So just who exactly is Zampino, besides the best baby mama ever? Here’s what you don’t know about the mother of Smith’s first son.
Will went to meet Jada and ended up with Sheree
Now this is a story all about how Will Smith’s love life got twisted upside down…
Smith showed up to the A Different World set determined to meet Jada Pinkett Smith after seeing an episode of her on show. Zampino was also on set that day — she was with a friend visiting then-writer Orlando Jones. Ironically, Zampino was on the Different World set with the person who was supposed to introduce Smith to Pinkett Smith. The Fresh Prince asked Zampino’s friend for her number instead and cold-called her, much to her surprise.
Smith shared the story on Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk show, saying “I went to Different World to meet Jada and met Sheree and ended up marrying Sheree and having Trey with Sheree. I didn’t meet Jada that day… We had all these near misses.” Oh well. You know who probably isn’t too disappointed by that near miss? Trey.
She was the one who pulled the plug on the marriage
Smith had fallen for Pinkett Smith while married to Zampino, but he claimed on the Red Table Talk that he wasn’t capable of divorce. Pulling the plug just wasn’t something he could ever do. Zampino, however, could. And on the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day, she filed for divorce. Her reasoning?
Youth. She said on her Facebook page “Our marriage ended because we were so young… It’s just a lot of responsibility. Marriage is not easy. Especially at that age.” Another factor was Smith’s rising profile. “Will was becoming bigger and bigger with his career. I’m becoming smaller and smaller and smaller.” She elaborated on Hollywood Unlocked, saying he couldn’t give her what she needed because his focus was on his career.
Zampino was quick to point out infidelity and abuse had nothing to do with their split (Smith and Pinkett Smith insist there was no affair). It came down to her being unhappy and not being mature enough to handle that unhappiness. Tabloid magazines hoping for something more salacious are going to have to look elsewhere.
Smith intimidated her dates
Zampino divorced Smith to get out of his shadow, but that shadow loomed large even after the split. Not only was she seeing the international superstar’s face all over the world — which she said during an episode of Hollywood Exes made moving on a little more challenging — but he was scaring away potential suitors with his rep alone. Apparently some men were intimidated by the fact that she had previously been married to a wealthy and famous megastar and didn’t want to have to follow his act.
Zampino revealed on Hollywood Exes “You date someone for a little bit and say ‘You know, I like this guy.’ So at some point you got to tell them who your ex was. And that was never something I looked forward to. I remember one guy literally almost drove off the road.” To be fair, that’s a hard act to follow. No wonder she ended up marrying an NFL player after Smith. Sadly, her marriage with that player, Terrell Fletcher, ended in divorce in 2014.
She and Jada exchanged 'fighting words' early on
The admirable relationship between Zampino and Pinkett Smith wasn’t always so warm. It actually got off to a frigid start. The two women recall a specific phone call they had, which they both labeled as “fighting words” during their Red Table Talk sit down. Zampino admitted she instigated the incident with her disrespectful tone, which led Pinkett Smith to hang up the phone. “I call back,” Zampino said, “and I happen to say ‘Bitch you living in the house I picked out.’ You said, ‘It’s my house now.’
Sounds like dialogue out of a soap opera, right? Well, Smith was none too pleased with Pinkett Smith and let her have it. “His take was ‘That is Trey’s mother and that’s just not your place,'” Pinkett Smith recalled. Zampino credited Pinkett Smith — who wishes she had understood the divorce dynamic better and not stuck her nose where it didn’t belong — for apologizing afterward. That and the way Pinkett Smith embraced Trey has helped the two turn what easily could have remained a rivalry into a friendship.
Multiple exes have Sheree tattoos
What is it about Zampino that caused men to get her name inked permanently onto their bodies? She revealed on her now-defunct podcast Eat, Pray, Live that “a couple” past flames got Sheree tattoos “many moons ago,” including one ex who had her name inked across his whole chest. “It was cute,” she said. Hey, at least someone appreciates the foolish gesture. Something tells us those exes and the girlfriends they’ve had since then aren’t as happy with it.
It’s unclear if Zampino has the name of any of her exes on her body, but we do know she has some ink of her own. She shared a picture of what looks like a feather tattoo on Instagram, which she told Reality Check is meant to cover up scars from her breast reduction surgery when she was 21. And yes, she said tattooing in that sensitive area hurt.
She's an ambitious entrepreneur — maybe too ambitious
Zampino seems to have entered the skin care industry on accident. She told Hollywood Unlocked she was looking for honey-based recipes and ended up with what would become her Whoop Ash body butter. Initially she gave her homemade skin product away to friends but then at the encouragement of pals such as Pinkett Smith, turned it into a product line. She has since pressed pause on Whoop Ash because she said she’s “busy with so many other things,” but didn’t elaborate.
One other business venture we do know about is her online boutique, Sheree Elizabeth, which sells shoes, clothing, jewelry and bags. Zampino, a former fashion design and marketing student, told Reality Check in 2015 that she planned on starting her own fashion line, but like the co-parenting book she said she was writing, and the art show she said she wanted to put together, it doesn’t appear to have materialized. Yet.
She claims Italian heritage
Zampino has gone on record as saying she’s part Italian — though what percentage isn’t exactly clear. She has referred to her Dad and grandmother as Italian on Instagram (actually, she called her dad #ItalianStallion, but that’s besides the point). Her dad, however, wasn’t born in Italy, seeing how she wrote on Instagram that he made his first trip there when he was 70. And in an obituary for her grandmother, it states she was born in Schenectady, New York, not Italy.
That’s not to say the three of them can’t claim Italian heritage. You can still be raised with Italian culture and traditions without having been born in Italy. One thing we do know is Italian food was at least part of Zampino’s upbringing, based on the Instagram post about her grandmother’s old fashioned lasagna, and one stating that she finds comfort in pasta.
She vacations with Will and their son, but no Jada?
Would you be OK with your significant other vacationing with their ex… without you? Yeah, neither would most people. You’d probably make them sleep on the couch just for asking. But the Smiths aren’t most people, as proven by their admirable and, at times, unorthodox family dynamic. Pinkett Smith told Sway’s Universe that she allows Smith to vacation with Zampino without her for the sake of their son, Trey. The exes have taken Jada-less trips together to Israel and Jordan, among other places.
Pinkett Smith said she feels “Trey needs to feel that dynamic between his two parents. That’s very important — that he can feel that connection and feel where they do meet so that he can feel that parental connection.” Why Trey needs to travel abroad to feel that “parental connection,” we’re not exactly sure. But if this sort of thinking is what helps their blended family run so smoothly then more power to them.
She found joy in O.J.'s release from prison
Apparently there are people in this world who were happy to see O.J. Simpson granted parole in 2017, including Zampino. She shared her joy on Instagram after Simpson — who was acquitted of murder in 1995 but sent to prison for armed robbery in 2008 — was released from jail. “O.J. is a free man! Happy for the #SimpsonFamily for getting their patriarch back,” she wrote, followed by hashtags such as “2ndchances,” “lifeat70” and “Daddyshome.”
Whether she has ties to the Simpson family or not, it was a bold statement considering most celebs have shunned the disgraced Simpson, including those he was friends with, and won’t go near him with a 10-foot pole. Oddly enough, Zampino faced little backlash as many of the comments under the post shared her enthusiasm for Simpson’s release. And here we thought O.J. was one of the few things the internet could agree on.
Give that woman a paint brush
It’s possible that Zampino’s greatest skill is the one that’s been taking a backseat all these years. She’s a talented painter, as evidenced by this Facebook video, but doesn’t showcase it as much as she does her skin care, fashion products, and mouth-watering cooking pics. And she should. Zampino clearly has a gift.
Talk of an art show has been just that, as it doesn’t appear Zampino has gone through with it yet. “I said it last year, I said it the year before, but this is my year,” Zampino said in the Facebook video. She admitted it would be hard to part with some paintings — particularly those based on photos she took of young women in Africa over a decade ago — but others were painted specifically for selling purposes. “The end of this year is my show,” she said in the video. “Get ready.” We’re ready, but is she?
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