Sheree Fletcher, the former Mrs. Will Smith shared her love of faith, family and friendship in this article that’s rooted with a nurturing spirit dating as far back as when she was 11 years-old and giving out advice to her mother’s best friends. As First Lady and wife of former NFL player-turned- Pastor Terrell Fletcher, Sheree explains why she values relationships with family and being the go-to-person that you see on VH1 Hollywood Exes, more often being the voice of reason among the other cast members.
Her show “VH1 Hollywood Exes” just wrapped its second season and when we asked her will there be a season 3 she replied, “We’re hopeful, but nothing is official. It’s been an amazing experience!”
Sheree had this to say about her cast members, “We have so much in common having been married to high profile famous men so we can really be a support team for one another.” adding, “The show was fun but indeed a lot of work. That’s the element many might not always understand is that it’s a lot of work! Working on the set required that the ladies shoot 500-600 hours of footage where the viewers may only see 13-hours of that on screen. Sheree is quick to add, “We have real connections outside of the show. It’s been amazing!”
A big gumbo pot became the catalyst for Sheree Fletcher’s business Whoop Ash
Sheree Fletcher talked to us about always having in her blood the ability to do something, primarily in the fashion industry. She went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for fashion and design, but ended up in California and eventually married then Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star, Will Smith. They had a son, Willard Carroll Smith III who goes by the name Trey. Wanting to do something more Sheree started a fashion business when Trey was just 3-years old, but quickly found that running a business with a young child was very much like have another baby.
“You can’t give both things one-hundred percent because something is going to suffer. Something had to give!” Sheree spoke about making choices and decided that the business she wanted to operate—she would have to do it later. “You can have it all, but you can’t always have it all at one time.” Her son was her number one priority.
Fast forward thirteen years later and Trey was sixteen years-old and it was at that time she decided she would start a business again. She started a skincare business which she admitted with laughter, was a total fluke. She originally got the idea from reading the book, The Secret Life of Bees where her interest in honey began, reflecting on Queen Latifah’s character in the movie who had a bee farm and made honey. A great cook herself who loves to entertain, Sheree thought it would be cool to make some different things with honey. She googled different types of recipes, but what kept coming up was spa recipes for the body. Things like skincare that prompted her to order ingredients like Shea butter, apricot and coconut oils. What do you know! She got in her kitchen and put some of those ingredients in a big gumbo pot with the same sentiments as if she were cooking a meal, “I was still cooking (laughter). adding, “I started playing around with the ingredients and was like, “Oh my God, this is amazing!”
Having a love for people, especially family she was actually giving away what she made. Never thinking it could be a business. It was actually Jada that suggested her products be sold through a business. Sheree quoting Jada saying, “Ree, you don’t understand what you have here. I’m a product whore and I know good products and you have something!” Her reply, “Oh, okay cool!
From that point on God increased her vision and the creation of Whoop Ash was born. She goes on to tell us that she didn’t initially have that name in mind…opting for a cute little name that wasn’t mentioned in our interview. “I was driving in my car to Starbucks. My home away from home in case ya’ll didn’t know (laughter). Equipping herself with a wonderful chemist, she handed over the products she made right from the comforts of her kitchen. The only request was that it be created as her own. It was important that the consistency of her product be something her consumers could trust when ordering time and time again. She stands wholeheartedly by her brand and that it is an amazing product made with integrity. What was merely a labor of love to make something for her family turned into a business Sheree is proud of. “Those are the best businesses. The ones that come out of a labor of love instead of initially trying to attach a dollar sign to it.”
Faith, friendship and guidance…
“What you see on television is very much me!” This is Sheree responding to our question as to whether or not she was different from what we saw on Hollywood Exes. She adds, “I remember being around eleven or twelve years old and my mother’s friends would get advice from me. How crazy is that?” Though she admits, “It wasn’t crazy at the time because when I look back I was doing it for a very long time.” We immediately got it ourselves. Sheree is one of those people that friends call because she’s going to give it to them real. You know, tell what they need to hear. “I think that’s refreshing!” she says. She admits on the last episode of season 2 she was a “bit of a blabber mouth.” However, if her friends came to her with something they were not going to hear it someplace else—it stays with her. “I value friendships and relationships where people see enough of me to trust me with their stuff. That means something to me!”
Having an adult son that is now thriving in his own right has to make any mother proud. Did we mention that Trey is a music producer and DJ who goes by the name DJ AcE. We asked, “How did mama Sheree handle the transition with her son going from childhood to adulthood?”
“Mama Sheree is still struggling (laughter). That’s my baby!
She’s honest with the whole empty nest thing and explains it’s very real! However, there’s comfort in knowing that Trey bounces between her house and his dad’s, but always checks on his mother. “When he’s at his dads, he calls me and is like, “Mom, I’m not coming home tonight put on the alarm.” As a DJ, Trey keeps late hours but this proud mommy boasts that her son still comes into her room and gives her a kiss like clockwork every single time! “He tells me that he loves me and hugs my husband as well. He does this every night that he’s over. It’s his routine.” Her voice is supportive when she mentions how loving and amazing he is. Then there was the unconditional support she would have to rely on when Trey decided not to attend college as she had hoped he would. “I didn’t give him that option. It was like you graduate from high school and you go to college. That’s what you do!” She told us his approach to not going to college was quite funny. Initially, he would mention casually that he was not going to play college football, another expectancy Sheree thought would happen given that Trey played so well during his high school years, at Oaks Christian High School in West Lake Village California. “I immediately got on the phone with his father and said, “He’s got to go to college. Help me out!” Will was like, “Sheree, this is his life!” adding, “Will didn’t feel like college was something that Trey could do with integrity, especially if it was not his choice to go. Will also reminded me that he never went to college. From that conversation, I had to be supportive of my son.” Sheree admitted she would have had a harder time with her son’s decision if he were just lying around the house or hanging out doing nothing. “He’s very diligent and he’s passionate about his music. First and foremost, he’s a producer; he makes music. DJaying is an expression of his music to let everybody hear what he does. “He’s a great kid!” No! I shouldn’t call him a kid. He’s a great human being. A great young man and he’s so passionate and so focused!”
The face of blended families
Sheree says she remembers when Will first started to date Jada. In her moment of transparency, the thought of another woman being around her child was not a comfortable place for her- but she knew it came with the territory, especially after she and Will divorced. She remembers having an emotional reaction and then realizing she needed to get over it. Her thought thereafter, “It’s not about you!” You have to know it’s about the kids now. You had your opportunity with your ex and now it’s about these kids!” She admits that when her son was going to meet Jada it was her first knee-jerk moment. Her son was going to be around another woman aside from his mom. Facing that reality she wanted to handle things in the best interest of Trey and had one important request. “The only thing I required of this woman was that she had to treat my son well!” When Trey would come home I never grilled him.” Sheree says. When the first visit happened, her son came home excited that he had a good time with Ms. Jada. She goes on to say that she and Trey gave Jada a gift after that visit. Sheree included a note that read, “Thank you for making a great first impression with my son.” That was the first interaction between the two of them.
When we asked Sheree how they made their blended family work, she paused for just a brief moment and responded, “You have to keep your issues to yourself.” First of all Trey was a product of divorce so he was dealing with his mommy and daddy not being together, so why would we want to cause more division!” Sheree said she made a choice to allow her child to have the best father he can possibly have and to have the best bonus mother he can possibly have. “You support that and you try to facilitate that!”
We asked her the public’s reaction to their blended family over the years. Her reply, “I’ve heard nothing but positive things, people just feel that we set a standard and told us they looked to us as role models…you know, the whole clan, the Smith’s and Fletcher’s.” I will just put it out there, I would hope that Jada and I would come together and create some type of forum where we can physically speak to women. Now here’s the thing, it’s not always easy and we have had real moments and then there were moments where she and I missed it!” Most of the time we were able to protect our children from our stuff because you know how we get in our flesh. Jada and I have had words! She adds, but at the time when they initially met, Jada didn’t have any children of her own and the whole thing was just new to everybody.” You have to give everybody grace in their new role.” We were all stumbling through this thing and having the same goal which was the children, but we were going to make mistakes. Sheree said there were times when both she and Jada had to apologize because they didn’t understand something at the time or they just simply missed it, but they always followed up with an apology. “We were able to humble ourselves because we had a clear goal to raise healthy, well-adjusted, young children and we never lost sight of that goal. We got in our flesh sometimes, but we never lost sight of our goal.”
We mentioned that maybe she and Jada could write a book and Sheree agreed by saying, “That’s one of the things that I hope that we are able to do!”
Half Black and Italian, Sheree reflected on her own childhood by mentioning that her mom and dad never married, but ended up having two children together. She didn’t meet her paternal grandfather until she was 16-years old. While growing up, her dad married and had another child. The beauty that came out of that was her half-sibling was always welcomed in her mother’s home. “Kids are innocent. You can’t take your stuff out on the children.” adding, “My mom was always amazing when it came to children and my dad’s son was always welcome!” And because Sheree grew up with this philosophy, it was easy for her to welcome her son’s brother and sister into her world. “Jaden and Willow…that’s my son’s brother and sister!” I have a good relationship with those children. They are family and I am family to them.” “They call me Ree Ree!
Life is too short…
Did stardom just fall in her lap because she’s Will Smith ex or did she pursue her career on her own?” “I didn’t look for that. I just did life as Sheree for so long!” adding, “That’s a part of my past. Yes, I am Will Smith’s ex-wife and it is what it is and that will never not be the case!” You can’t control the perception of other people and what they want to say and what parameters they want to box you in. I say, just do life! You just do life to the best that you can because it is too short! Her response led her to explaining the perception of Hollywood Exes. “None of us were crazy about that name.” It’s funny because that was the working name and it just kind of slipped in there and so that was the public’s introduction to us.” Sheree explains that the concept of the show was taking something that’s familiar and connecting it in terms of the show’s name and not making it about the men. “The show doesn’t focus on the men. It doesn’t focus on them at all! “I don’t know if anyone of us would have done the show if it focused on who these men really are or who they were.” These women had to have had something a little special because these were men who could have had anybody!” That was the premise for the creators of the show. Their thoughts were that we were really extraordinary women!”
My blessed union (Marriage)…
Terrell Owens is a former NFL player and now Sr. Pastor of City Hope International Church, a multi-cultural ministry based in San Diego, CA. Sheree met her husband when Trey was just nine years-old. The two celebrated six years of marriage earlier this year. “He loves my son and he’s so good with Trey!” Marriage is not easy. It’s hard!” adding, “When you have a common goal and you’re working towards something that’s the thing!” Sheree said that she and Fletcher really had a foundation of friendship opting not to have sex and remain celibate for 6 years leading up to saying “I do!” They both didn’t want to deal with the things that sex brings in a relationship. “Even in the tough times of marriage we can laugh and hangout. The friendship is easy. It’s the romance that comes and goes. Sometimes it’s like butterflies in your stomach and other times it’s like, if this Negro don’t take out the trash!” (laughter)…There’s Sheree again. Givingit to us real!
Photo credit: Quillard/Quillard Inc.
Interview conducted by Twins of Media