ZaraLena Jackson: Model with alopecia PRAISES Will Smith, says he 'showed strength'
A 29-year-old model with alopecia has praised Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock after the comedian joked about the actor's wife Jada Pinkett Smith's bald head at the Oscars on Monday, March 28. ZaraLena Jackson opened up about the incident that shocked Hollywood and said she also has been subjected to similar ridicule by people after she started losing large chunks of hair because of the autoimmune disorder.
The model from Preston, UK, said Rock was insensitive and should have known better. “I think it's inappropriate to make any joke about someone with alopecia as it's a condition that highly impacts mental health for that individual and isn't a laughing matter,” she said. “I heard Chris made a GI Jane comment, which I've had before myself. I saw Will's reaction and all I thought was, ‘Where can I get one of those?’"
On Monday night, Rock, who was hosting the show, said, “Jada, I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” which made Jada — who suffers from alopecia and has shaved her head — to roll her eyes. 'G.I. Jane' is a 1997 movie starring a bald Demi Moore as a soldier.
Smith, who initially laughed at the joke, marched on stage and took a swing at Rock. He then walked back to his seat and said: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.” Smith faced a lot of backlash and was slammed online by celebrities and fans alike.
ZaraLena, who has also been the target of nasty comments about her illness, said she would love to have a partner who would "stand up" for her just like Smith did for his wife at the Oscars. “To be clear, I don't condone violence, but him defending Jada showed strength in my eyes and was very comforting to see a man stand by his woman when she has alopecia…Being a comedian is very tongue-in-cheek and we all dislike when jokes are targeted at us, regardless of the subject. But he [Chris Rock] should have anticipated that response naturally and known better,” she said.
Who is ZaraLena?
ZaraLena debuted on MTV's Ex on the Beach in 2017 with long, luscious curls, and after leaving the show, she became an Instagram star. In 2020, however, the model began to lose large chunks of hair and was diagnosed with alopecia. ZaraLena lost all of her body hair in six weeks and described it as painful and "stripping" her of her identity.
“It totally depends on who has made the joke. I've had it all - I've had strangers say 'hey baldy' which doesn't phase me at all, I am bald. I've had friends and family joke about 'let your hair down' or ask to borrow a razor or shampoo, which I just laugh at because I know they mean no harm and it can be humorous to see them panic without thinking about the comment.”
She continued, “The worst snide comment for me is, ‘Oh wow, nothing is natural any more, is it?’”