Charlie Villanueva Defends Will Smith, Speaking Out on Behalf of People With Alopecia
At this point, we all know that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards. The entire ordeal was prompted after Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance, saying: “Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2′ — can’t wait to see it.”
For those of you who don’t know, Rock was referring to the 1997 movie in which Demi Moore’s character shaves her head in order to join the Navy. But what Chris Rock didn’t know at the time of making the joke, was that Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia — an autoimmune disorder that causes people to lose some, or all, of their hair.
According to Will Smith, picking on his wife because of her autoimmune disorder crossed the line for him. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” he wrote in a follow-up apology posted to social media.
The incident has caused many people to chime in with their two cents. One of those people is Charlie Villanueva, the Dominican-American former basketball player who also has alopecia. Villanueva has alopecia universalis — a form of alopecia that causes him to lose all of his hair all over his body.
On Monday, Villanueva took to Instagram to offer his opinion about the controversy. Villanueva defended Smith’s actions despite saying that he “didn’t condone violence.”
“For someone who’s at the stage where they’re still struggling with [alopecia], they’re very vulnerable, and it’s a very slippery slope,” Villanueva said in the video. “… For someone who’s dealing with alopecia and hasn’t accepted it, and people crack jokes — regardless if it’s a comedian or regardless of who it is — that shit hurts.”
Villanueva added that, “at the end of the day, Will reacted because he saw his wife’s pain.”
“Mind you, we’re not with Jada 24/7,” Villanueva said. “We know that she’s been struggling with it, but we don’t really know what’s been going on.” He concluded: “You have to be careful on how you address people, on how you want to crack jokes on people, because you don’t know what they’re going through.”
Villanueva himself has been the subject of jokes when it comes to hair loss. According to him, Kevin Garnett once tried to get under his skin by telling him that he looked like a “cancer patient.”
In the past, Jada Pinkett Smith has been candid about her struggle with alopecia, describing how her hair loss began in an emotional 2018 episode of “Red Table Talk.”
“It was terrifying when it first started,” Pinkett Smith said. “I was in the shower one day, and then just handfuls of hair — just in my hands — and I was like, ‘Oh my God, am I going bald?’ It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear. That’s a really scary experience.”
In that same episode, Pinkett also explained that for her, taking care of her hair has been a sort of “ritual.”
“My hair has been a big part of me,” she said. “Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual — and having the choice to have hair or not — and then one day be like, ‘Oh my god, I might not have that choice.’”
In December of last year, Pinkett Smith posted a brutally honest clip on Instagram sharing a new hairless patch on her buzzed head. She captioned the video with: “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… period!”
“Now, at this point, I can only laugh,” Pinkett Smith said. “Y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia, and all of a sudden one day — look at this line right here,” she said, pointing to a pale line at the top of her head. “Look at that. It just showed up like that. And this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So I thought I’d just share it so y’all are not asking any questions.”