How Jada Pinkett Smith’s ‘Red Table Talk’ Slut-Shamed a Sex Worker


Now in its third season, Red Table Talk has found its stride, praised for the candid conversations carried out by Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith, and mother Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris.

Touting itself as a space where three generations of women can discuss various topics in a judgement-free environment, the women’s approach has consistently made news by nabbing sought-after interviews with fellow celebrities.

They were first to speak with tearful YouTube blogger Olivia Jade, whose actress-mother Lori Loughlin spent nearly two months in prison for shelling out $500,000 to secure Olivia Jade and her older sister Isabella Rose spots at USC. Her fashion designer-father Mossimo Giannulli is still serving his five-month sentence.

The Smiths were protective when they sat down with longtime family friend Jordyn Woods, Kylie Jenner’s former best friend, after she was maligned on social media for allegedly hooking up with Khloe Kardashian’s partner Tristan Thompson in 2019.

Even Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith came to the table to address her so-called “entanglement” with singer August Alsina last July, having a transparent conversation about the intricacies of their relationship.

But influencer Ava Louise Lockner, 22, claims the “open and honest” policy the show pushes is not what she experienced when she was set to be featured in an episode about being a sugar baby in the fall of 2019.

Ava Louise said she felt attacked during the several hours she spent at the Smiths’ Calabasas home, claiming Pinkett Smith was rolling her eyes and Gammy was slut-shaming her throughout filming.

When the segment failed to air, Ava Louise spent weeks chasing up once-eager producers. Finally, she said she received a cutting call from a high-level executive on the show.

Ava Louise claims the woman told her point blank they would not be airing her episode because one of the hosts found her “gross and disgusting.”

“I was told the Smith family want nothing to do with you. They decided they don’t want to be associated with sex work and do not contact them again,” Ava Louise said.

Ava Louise is no stranger to harsh judgement. The brash blonde appeared on Dr. Phil earlier that year to discuss why she decided to “get hot” and try to gain a following on Instagram, which was met with ridicule by both Dr. Phil and viewers.

She admits she heavily leans into her social media persona, which is over the top, outrageous, and flirts with scandal. (She went viral in 2020 for licking a plane toilet seat for the “coronavirus challenge.”)

But Ava Louise said she was expecting fair treatment from Red Table Talk when she was contacted over Instagram by a supervising producer with the show, who said the Smiths wanted her to be featured on an episode about sugar babies.

“I obviously spoke to them on the phone,” she explained. “They really liked what I had to say, they flew me out, put me in a hotel in Calabasas, and everything seemed great.”

“It seemed like a really good, inclusive environment,” she added. “I’m walking around the whole area with these producers and they were like, ‘Oh, we love you. We’re so excited.”

The Daily Beast has spoken with a former supervising producer who confirmed Red Table Talk did film an episode about sugar babies and has reviewed emails from Red Table Talk producers discussing Ava Louise’s appearance on the show, confirming travel plans and sending follow-up emails after filming finished.

Representatives for Red Table Talk did not respond to requests for comment by time of publishing.

Ava Louise said she was given a rundown of how things would go during filming. “They said this show is supposed to be a judgment-free zone, like a therapy session. We want you to speak your truth, talk about your life, your experiences, to be open. They asked me to be completely honest,” she explained.

Ava Louise launched into her story about how when she was 14, she discovered an article in Cosmopolitan on college girls that were becoming sugar babies to buy designer bags. When she turned 18, Ava Louise said she wanted to be the next Kylie Jenner so she turned to sugar baby dating sites so she could afford lip fillers.

“I remember the whole time, Gammy is silent, just a very mean, rude face,” Ava Louise recalled. “She was just very slut-shamey. She asked, ‘You don’t like yourself more than that?’”

Ava Louise said she was put off by Gammy’s approach, explaining she was young and had just opened up about personal aspects of her life, including her relationship with her family and pressures of college.

Toward the end of filming, Ava Louise said two other sugar babies, a man and woman, were brought out to serve as a sort of example to her. Ava Louise said they were presented as older and wiser, with the woman explaining how she had a stable relationship with her sugar daddy who invested into her business.

“One had written a book on how to be a successful sugar baby and they’re forcing her book on me, being like, ‘Clearly you need to educate yourself because you’re not doing this right. There’s a better way to do it without whoring yourself out,’ was the kind of vibe I was getting,” Ava Louise said.

“I was like, wait a minute, was this supposed to make me look bad? I was kind of made to look like the stupid blonde college student and these two people were here to put me in my place.”

“I was supposed to be a joke and a stereotype. ‘Oh, look at this little bimbo, this little blonde influencer girl. Then look at these people, ‘Don’t be like her, be like them.’”

It wasn’t a therapy session. It was, ‘We will judge you and bring out people that we think are more successful than you and sit them down with you, trying to back you into a corner’ kind of thing.

“It was kind of messed up to do to me, especially after opening up in a very vulnerable way,” Ava Louise said. “It wasn’t a therapy session. It was, ‘We will judge you and bring out people that we think are more successful than you and sit them down with you, trying to back you into a corner’ kind of thing.”

Ava Louise said while she was disappointed with how things went, she was still grateful to be part of the show.

“I was just starting off my social media career at that point. So, to me, being on Red Table Talk was huge,” she explained.

A few days after flying back to New York, Ava Louise received follow-up emails about sending over some pictures and signing release forms. But after being told the episode would air in two weeks, she was “ghosted completely.”

She tried to follow up with producers but was fobbed off until she finally got ahold of someone higher up on the show, she said.

“She said personally one of the hosts thought you were gross, they thought you were disgusting. We decided the Smith family doesn’t really want to be associated with sex work or anything like that, implying being a sugar baby was like being a prostitute.”

Ava Louise said she was shocked in the manner she was spoken to, deeming it offensively rude and unprofessional. The entire experience left a bad taste in her mouth, pointing out that the whole concept of Red Table Talk is to be an open, safe space to discuss a variety of issues.

Ava Louise pointed out that in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a wave of women turned to OnlyFans to generate an income stream and TikTok is filled with videos of women celebrating being a sugar baby.

Due to the increased attention on the subject matter and push to support sex workers, Ava Louise wondered if the Smiths would ever reconsider broaching the topic again. If they do, she said she hopes the women are treated with more respect than she was.



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