We Need To Change Our Attitudes Towards Sex

Take it from Jada Pinkett Smith, who’s studied strip clubs and human trafficking for Magic Mike XXL

What was the draw when you were approached by Channing Tatum and director Greg Jacobs to join the Magic Mike XXL gang?

“When I spoke with Greg and Channing for the first time, Channing said, ‘Jada, I love this industry but it has its problems. I really want to figure out how can we do something like this and make adult entertainment seem fun and responsible.’  So I was thinking, ‘Okay. I’m down for that ride.’”

Did you do any research into strip clubs to get into your character’s mindset? 

“Well, I’ve done a lot of philanthropy work in human trafficking, and, believe it or not, I was just working on a documentary about strip clubs in Atlanta. I was wondering why it is that pole-dancing contests and pole-dancing exercise classes in gymnasiums are so embraced. What is the difference between a pole-dancer in a gymnasium trying to get exercise versus one who works at a strip club? And my thought was that it’s attitude. It’s about why we go to the strip club. It’s about the energy. It’s about the messaging that is brought to the strip club. That’s a different messaging than what is brought to the pole-dancing competitor and the woman who wants to get in shape through pole-dancing.

You’re never going to eradicate strip clubs. There’s always going to be a level of adult entertainment. So my thinking is that what we need to do is change our attitudes towards sex. What we need to do is bring what’s in the dark into the light. We’re mature enough to explore our true feelings about our sexuality and our desires, so when you bring things from the dark into the light, it can become something that’s not seen as dirty. Then it keeps people out of trouble. 

What’s funny is I’d never been to a male strip club before. But when I was shooting the scenes in Rome’s club and also being at the big show they do, I’d never felt anything like the camaraderie of the women there. I was completely shocked because I never expected to feel that in this particular space. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we’re all here for the same reason. We’re all giving each other license to be here, to have a good time, to cut loose, and to be the sensually free women that we want to be without being judged. It was really interesting.”

What it was like to work with Channing and the other actors, and being a woman with this pack of guys?

“I got to observe how guys are together, when they’re in what I call the ‘frat pack.’  Then I also witnessed this incredible shift that happens when their beautiful fiancés and partners came to the set — what they want to become for the people that they love and what it takes for a man to be submerged in a women’s world. So seeing the difference between the two was, like, ‘Wow — that is interesting.’  It gave me a lot more understanding and respect for what men really try to do in communing with us. 

It was also a lot of fun because they were all so generous. I felt well-taken-care of by the whole team. It just felt good to be in an environment like that and you just feel safe with the content of the movie. It’s so hyper-sexualized but yet you’re with these really grown men and feel ultra safe. That was quite beautiful as well.”

Did you have a favorite scene or moment from the production that was particularly fun or memorable?

“I’ll tell you a fan moment I had.  I was done with my part for the day, but Joe [Manganiello]’s dancing was coming up, and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. I’ve got to get out of this costume.’ Let me tell you — the base camp was empty because we all rushed to get to see Joe’s scene. We were up there like little screaming fans watching Joe. It was that much fun.”

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