Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The

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Daphne Maxwell Reid says that despite playing the role second, many don’t know she was actually asked to audition for the role of Aunt Viv on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” before the character’s original star, Janet Hubert.

“I remember back in 1989 when we first decided to leave California, I was asked to audition for a little television sitcom with a rapper,” Reid shared. “And I said, ‘I’m really not interested in doing a sitcom with a rapper who’s not an actor.’ And it turned out to be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and when I saw it on the air that fall, I said, ‘Oh, this is a cute show. I guess I missed that opportunity.'”

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“Three years later, they called and said, ‘We are casting the Aunt Vivian part for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and I got there as fast as I could,” the actress explained. “I had to audition against 200, 300 other women that they found all over the country. And had the blessed, blessedness to meet James Avery and strike a chemical cord with him. I just adore that man and I guess our chemistry worked because I got the job.”

Speaking on the sitcom’s recent HBO Max reunion, Reid said, “We just had such a wonderful, warm relationship with everybody on that show that they really are family to us now. And since we lost James, it was a blow to all of us.”

“But he [James] and his wife and my husband and I used to travel together,” Reid added. “We would have a hoot. You only have a few of those relationships in show business because it’s difficult to connect with people when they move on. But when you move on with them and when you really secure a friendship while you’re working, then they’re very valuable friendships.”

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While the infamous switch in actresses for Aunt Viv’s character remains controversial to fans of the series to this day, Reid said she had no regrets about taking over the role in the third season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because, in her opinion, every actor is “replaceable”.

I did not feel anything about replacing the original Aunt Viv,” Maxwell Reid frankly stated. “All actors are replaceable according to the choices of the creators and producers of the project. I was delighted to have a job on such a wonderful show. I had to earn my spot, and was thrilled when it came to be. When we all reunited last fall, I was grateful to finally meet Janet. She belonged in our reunion as much as I did, and I was happy that whatever transpired before I was hired, of which I had no knowledge, had been dealt with and life moved on.”

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