Sheree Zampino is a breakout star from the 12th season of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and she knows a thing or two about facing the bright lights in Hollywood as the ex-wife of Will Smith and mother to their son, Trey.
While Smith has faced heavy backlash for his on-air reaction to a joke Chris Rock told about wife Jada Pinkett Smith during the 94th Academy Awards, Zampino exclusively told Fox News Digital that she never discussed the incident with their son post-Oscars.
“Believe it or not, we never had a conversation,” she said. Zampino recalled their brief interaction shortly after Oscars night, asking Trey: “‘Are you OK?’ Dad … How is Dad?’”
She remembered Trey telling her “Dad is great, Mom” after the incident in March. “That was it.”
FRIENDLY CELEBRITY EXES: HOW HOLLYWOOD STARS BUILD RELATIONSHIPS AFTER ROMANCE
“‘Are you good? I just want to know, is everybody good?’ That’s how I’ve always been with him. I’ve never interrogated him,” she said. “I don’t ask him a thousand questions. I think that’s a bad parenting move when the child is with the other [parent] and comes back, and you ask them a zillion questions.”
Smith shared a public apology on YouTube earlier this month after slapping Rock during the televised show. Shortly after the incident, he won best actor for his role in “King Richard.”
Days later, Smith announced his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a statement provided to Fox News Digital, saying he had “betrayed the trust of the Academy.” The Academy also announced that Smith was banned from attending the Oscars or any other academy event for 10 years.
At the time, Zampino didn’t comment on Smith slapping Rock during the award show, but instead congratulated him on Instagram and said that family comes first. “Epic Night! Congratulations again – when 1 wins we all win! #family1st,” she captioned the picture.
When it comes to her relationship with her son, Zampino tells Fox News Digital she appreciates the bond she’s cultivated with Trey, who is almost 30 years old. “With their relationship, you don’t need to know all the details. If they want to share it, that’s one thing, but don’t force it out of them. That’s just kind of the flow we’ve always had,” she said.
She credited her late mother Pat for setting a positive example in how she wanted to parent her future kids.
Zampino’s parents had two children and were never married. Her father married later in life and had a son, Richard, who her mother always welcomed in their home.
“Sometimes you’re taught … to not like the ex and the new wife, but my mother was an example for me in that area,” she said. “She just was like, ‘Kids don’t ask to be born. They’re here. So you can’t really take your stuff out on them.’”
She recalled the pain her mom, a Black woman, felt witnessing the rejection from Zampino’s paternal Italian grandfather who had an issue with his grandchildren “being biracial.”
“She felt for kids,” Zampino said. “She hurt for us. She wouldn’t dare do that to another child, shunned another child based on anything other than who they are.”
WILL SMITH AND WIFE JADA PINKETT SMITH SPOTTED TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME SINCE INFAMOUS CHRIS ROCK OSCARS SLAP
Her relationship with her own son, Trey, has only benefited from her approach to let her son exist exactly as he is without letting her own world interfere in his life.
“A big part of your job is protecting your child and protecting them, especially from you,” she said. “But then as he gets older … We’re able to have real conversations. He’s so wise that he literally gives me the best advice. I’m just so grateful for him.”
Sheree feels “honored” to be a positive change in promoting how blended family dynamics can evolve.
She said the 2018 “Red Table Talk” where she sat down with Jada to talk about the beginning of Pinkett Smith’s relationship with her ex, which began after Zampino and Smith separated in 1995, was a “powerful episode and conversation.”
“I’m fortunate we had the chance to have that in such a public way, and we didn’t hold anything back,” she said.
As a true fan of the show, she was connected to “RHOBH” through her friend, Garcelle Beauvais, who also previously dated Will.
“It was funny because people say, ‘You guys are friends, and she used to date [Smith]. I said, listen, you know, it is what it is. It wasn’t like they were dating when we were together. We went our separate ways, and then they formed a connection and I didn’t know about it.”
Sheree joked that Garcelle kept her own dating history a secret until after they formed their bond: “She slid that in after we were friends.”
Zampino remembered doubting if she was making the right move when she heard she may be receiving an opportunity to join “Housewives.”
“Garcelle reached out,” she said while recalling a conversation with her longtime friend who’s starred on the show since season 10.
“My knee-jerk reaction was to say ‘no’ and then it was like, you know, what are you even saying no to? You don’t even have anything to turn down. At least be in a position to turn it down. The end game might not be the ending that you were thinking. So I said, ‘Let me just be open to going through.’”
Zampino was “grateful” to be so welcomed into the group and connected quickly with “most of the ladies,” but was surprised to form a bond with Erika Jayne.
“I’m a fan of the show, so I’ve watched the show for many years, and I just didn’t think she was emotionally accessible,” she said. “I found that she was, so that was a pleasant surprise. I was like, ‘Oh, she’s human!’”
When it comes to the rest of the season, Zampino was excited for Bravo fans to see what’s in store and said, “buckle your seatbelts.”
She also reassured viewers that she’s waiting for the offer to be promoted to full-time Housewives status.
“I have not been offered the diamond,” she said. “I want to be offered the diamond. I will make that very, very clear. But, I want to be asked.”