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Jada Pinkett Smith Hits The Big 4-0!

9/18/2011 12:00pm EDT

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Jada Pinkett-Smith celebrates a big birthday on Sunday - she turns the big 4-0!

The Maryland native has been a Hollywood fixture since her marriage to actor/rapper Will Smith in 1997, but she is an accomplished actress, singer and all-round multi-talented star in her own right.

She has had leading roles in films like The Nutty Professor, Collateral, The Matrix Reloaded and Madagascar, and served double duty by starring and executive producing her TV medical series HawthoRNe, until it was axed earlier this month after three seasons on air.

Pinkett-Smith manages to juggle her own busy career with her responsibilities as a wife and mother of the couple's two children, Jaden, 13, and Willow, 10, who are also making their mark in music and film.

But the birthday girl is sure to be the center of attention in the Smith household this weekend as she celebrates the age milestone, and we'd like to wish her Happy Birthday with 10 fascinating facts about the woman born Jada Koren Pinkett.

- She was named after her mother Adrienne's favourite soap opera actress, Jada Rowland.
- The actress met her husband Will Smith in 1990 after auditioning for a role as his onscreen girlfriend in TV comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She didn't get the role because at only five feet tall, she was considered too short - and it instead went to Nia Long.
- When she is not working in Hollywood, she is rocking out as the frontwoman of the band Wicked Wisdom, which she founded in 2002.
- Pinkett Smith became a close friend of rap icon Tupac Shakur after meeting him at the Baltimore School for the Arts, where they were both students.
- She was crowned Miss Maryland in a beauty pageant in 1988.
- She starred in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as human rebel Niobe, a character written specifically for her by the Wachowski Brothers.
- She is a spokesmodel and one of several celebrity investors in beauty product brand Carol's Daughter.
- Pinkett Smith turned to her mother, a nurse, for advice while starring as Chief Nursing Officer Christina Hawthorne in the TV medical drama Hawthorne to ensure the hospital scenes were as realistic as possible.
- She tried her hand at clothing design in 1994 when she launched her own women's fashion label, Maja.
- The superstar couple is big on charity - in 2001, it established the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, an organisation focusing on education and inner-city family welfare.

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Photo Credits: © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.