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Of course Jada Smith was a Scientologist, says principal who ran her Scientology school

[Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jacqueline Olivier]

Back in the spring of 2015, your proprietor and Mike Rinder sat down with Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern as part of the publicity on Alex Gibney’s film, Going Clear. During the interview, Stern said that Will Smith was a Scientologist, and the two of us both corrected him — it wasn’t true.

That assertion caused a bit of a media storm, but we had really good sources on this, and we still believe it to this day — while Will Smith had dabbled in Scientology and had at one time financed a Scientology “Study Tech” elementary school, by 2015 he was no longer involved in it at all.

In a piece of our own at that time, we explained that while Will had only ever been a dabbler, it was his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the real dedicated Scientologist in the family.

Anyone who reports on Scientology and knows about the Smith family involvement knows this very well. It’s not even controversial. Here’s what we said at the time…

We have known for years that the dedicated Scientologist in the family was Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. In 2008, the Smiths opened up a private school that used Scientology “Study Technology,” and also used ideas from Scientology “ethics.” The school was financed for three years by the Smiths, then struggled to bring in enough funding to continue, and it closed up in 2013.


We still have the only interview with the school’s first principal, Jacqueline Olivier, who told us about Will Smith enforcing the Scientology rules at the school.

But we had an excellent source very close to Will who told us that the actor was a dabbler who had an interest in all religions, “but belonged to none of them.” If Will enforced Scientology at the academy, it was an experiment he and his wife were trying seven years ago.

Rinder and your proprietor continue to monitor these kinds of things, and we each received new information that Will Smith’s fascination with Scientology is over. Our source on this is really very excellent, which is why we spoke so definitively to Marlow Stern, the Daily Beast reporter, whose story quoted us accurately throughout. We also believe that Jada has also ended her involvement.

Please note that final bit there: By 2015, we believed that Will and Jada had both given up their association with Scientology.

So we were a little surprised this week when Marlow Stern came out with a new piece after interviewing Leah Remini, and he pretended that it was shocking new information that Jada had been into E-meters and auditing.

And not only that, but Leah asserted that Jada is still a member. We have no doubt that Leah did see Jada around the Celebrity Centre years ago, but we still believe that Jada walked away from Scientology when her husband did. But that’s OK, your proprietor and Leah often have differences of opinion, despite what you might have heard. And we really didn’t think it was something worth addressing.

But then, the really funny thing that happened next was that Jada Smith responded on Twitter with a bit of a dodge…


Coming at the end of a series of tweets about how she had also prayed in mosques and lit Shabbat candles, Jada clearly wanted to give the impression that her connection to Scientology was superficial, and maybe even somewhat obligatory as an open-minded multicultural celebrity.

Well, that we couldn’t let go.

So what we did was call up Jacqueline Olivier, the woman who was the principal at the New Village Leadership Academy from 2007 to 2009, the school financed by the Smiths, and who has only given any interviews to the Underground Bunker.

Now, before we tell you what she said, there tends to be a lot of really bad reporting regarding the Smiths and their school, so we want to quickly go over the basic facts that we have learned from Olivier and from public records:

The Smiths and several other parents created their own group home-schooling operation using Scientology’s Study Tech, and they hired Olivier to help them turn their “academy” into an actual bricks-and-mortar facility. Jacqueline spent a year helping them prepare to create that school, which they ended up locating at a closed former public high school in Calabasas, California.

But she told us that Will’s film partners were nervous about him opening a school with such strong ties to Scientology:

As the 2007-2008 school year continued, Olivier says she was busy branding the new school and working out a lease for a building. In June 2008, Will Smith’s movie Hancock was opening, and Olivier says she was present when one of Smith’s partners talked to him about promoting the film.

“His business partner, James Lassiter, was telling him, ‘Don’t let Scientology get in the way of this movie. Don’t let the school and Scientology get in the way of the bottom line.’ I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the point of what he said,” Olivier says.

The rent on the empty former school they found was reportedly $900,000 for three years, and so the Smiths, through a trust they controlled, loaned the school’s controlling corporation $1.235 million, covering that rental cost and a little more.

That seed money gave the school three years to try and become self-financing through tuition and fundraising, and it opened for classes in the fall of 2008.

That timing turned out to be unfortunate for the Smiths, however, because 2008 was the year that Anonymous was active, and even just opening a school that used Scientology materials was enough to produce picket lines and brought the school unwanted attention in the press. At the time, however, Olivier insisted to reporters that the school was strictly secular and had nothing to do with the Church of Scientology itself.

She was fired a year later, however, because the truth was the opposite, she admitted to us: The Smiths not only wanted Scientology materials used in class, but they also were submitting the children to Scientology concepts of “ethics,” which is the church’s euphemism for “control.” Olivier had believed she could minimize the Scientology content and produce a fine private school, but the Smiths had other ideas and replaced her with a friend who was a Scientologist.

But remember, the Smiths had only financed the first three years of the school, after which their own children, Jaden and Willow, were no longer taking classes there. Unable to raise enough money on its own to continue operations, the school closed permanently in June 2013. (And no, the Smiths did not get a “refund” after the school closed — they walked away from almost all of the $1.2 million they had loaned it.)

While the school was running, though, it had a major focus on Scientology. “No teacher was allowed to interact with the kids until they had taken several Scientology courses,” Olivier told us yesterday when we called her. She herself was told to take courses at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, where Jada attended classes.

We asked her, was there any doubt at all that while you worked for her that Jada Pinkett Smith was a dedicated Scientologist?

“I have not one doubt about that. There is no question,” she says.

As for Will, she says she wondered about his involvement. “He either really loved Jada and had opened a Scientology school for her, or he was into it too,” she says. While the school was running and their children were at the school, both of the Smiths were adamant about how Scientology materials would govern how the school ran.

Today, as we said, we believe the Smiths have walked away from Scientology. But there’s little doubt that a decade ago, Jada Smith was an enthusiastic church member, regardless of what she tells the public today.


Jeffrey Augustine talks to Karen Pressley



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 20, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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