Where Are They Now? The Cast of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
I can’t tell you how many times my classmates and I used to sit at lunch talking about the latest episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” From Will getting shot to Carlton overdosing on speed and Hilary’s fiance face planting into the ground during a bungee jump proposal, there have been many dark moments on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” that had folks talking. But for the most part, the show was one of the funniest ever. The fact that they could even find a way to make the death of Hilary’s fiance funny at all says a lot about the writing. But enough rambling. You want to know where they are now, and after doing some research (a lot actually, I lost some good sleep hours), I thought I’d fill you in. Per the usual, be ready to click on a few pages.
Of course we had to start with the obvious. Will Smith played…well, Will Smith, the street smart and hilarious Philly teen who moves to Bel-Air and creates all kinds of havoc (and comedy) for his aunt, uncle and cousins. I just loved everything about Will on this show, especially his overly-dramatic side (“Mama noooooooooooooo! *in a high pitch scream*). While the show was going and after it ended, Will Smith became a blockbuster movie star. Post the show, he did Men in Black, I Am Legend, I, Robot, and garnered Academy Award nominations for his work in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness. He also, of course, was a music star, releasing the albums Big Willie Style and Willennium. Be on the lookout for sequels for Hancock, I, Robot and another Bad Boys installment. Geez, going to keep milking that one, eh?
As snooty-booty cousin Carlton, Alfonso Ribeiro was almost as important of a character as Will. I mean, how many times have you wanted to sing, “It’s Not Unusual,” or do the Carlton dance when you think of that show? Thank this player right here. My favorite episode that revolved around Carlton had to be when he did the bet with Will that he couldn’t stay a night in MacArthur Park, and somehow he proved Will wrong (and became gangsta at the same time.) After “The Fresh Prince,” Ribeiro went on to do voice work, and also starred alongside LL Cool J in the popular show, “In the House.” He’s also made appearances on “One on One,” “Are We There Yet?”, was a host for the show “Catch 21” and won the reality competition show, “Celebrity Duets,” after singing with the likes of Chaka Khan and James Ingram.
Big ‘ol uncle Phil was always known for his temper, but good heart. While he might throw Jazz out by his shirt and snap at Will at any given moment, he was also there for Will when he needed him (remember the episode where Will’s dad bailed on him??). After the show ended, Avery worked on the show “Sparks,” guest starred on “That 70’s Show,” “The Closer,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and also did movies including Hair Show and Who’s Your Caddy? He’s still working and still doing big things.
I can’t imagine how dope it must have been to play the very sadity, but also uber-stylish Hilary Banks. Her character knew all the biggest stars, and wore all the nicest clothes. Too bad she was dumb as all hell, but still, she managed to somehow get her own television show (if the reality TV chicks can do it then hey…).
Anywho, since then, Parsons (who starred in movies like Major Payne and Class Act while on the show) has done a few roles on television, including co-producing and starring in a short-lived show called “Lush Life.” But after that, she did the movies Mixing Nia, Ladies Man, and 13 Moons. And if you didn’t notice, she was the host of our video series, “Mommy in Chief”!
The little sister of the crew, Tatyani Ali’s character of Ashley was living the life on that show. She got to kiss Tevin Campbell, learned to play the drums, learned how to fight from Will (“BACK UP, BACK UP! Mind ya business, just mind ya business!”)…and did I mention that she got to kiss Tevin Campbell? Once the show neared its end though, Ali started sticking her foot into music, including putting out an album called KISS THE SKY. She also was in the films Kiss the Girls, Jawbreaker, The Brothers, and the Nora’s Hair Salon franchise. She starred in an online BET show recently called “Buppies,” and she’s currently a star on the TV One show, “Love That Girl.”
*In addition (shout out to those who pointed it out): How could we forget! Aside from having a recurring role on “The Young and the Restless,” Ali also is a certified smarty pants. She acquired a bachelor’s degree in political science and African American studies from Harvard in between all that acting and hustling and bustling. And she’s not the only Harvard grad that was on the show…(stay tuned!)
Man, the original Aunt Viv was awesome. Well, she was on TV at least. To this day I can never forget the episode where she was turning 40 and she decided to see if she could still dance and embarrassed all the hating a** young girls. Best. Episode. Ever.
But after the show ended, Hubert did more guest appearances than anything else. From an appearance on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” and being cast as Bernie Mac’s mother-in-law on “The Bernie Mac Show,” to a role on the show “The Job,” she did a variety of TV work. She was most recently on the show “House of Payne,” but in her spare time, spends a lot of time reminding people how much she can’t stand Will Smith, and writing scathing open letters to Wendy Williams. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
You’ve got to love wise-cracking Geoffrey, the coolest and perhaps funniest butler on earth. After the show ended, Marcell also did an array of guest TV show appearances, including popping up on “In the House,” “Living Single,” and a recurring role on “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 2003-2004. He was also on a show called “EastEnders” and most recently did a film called Fever in 2011. He currently lives abroad in Maidenhead, Berkshire and is on the board for the esteemed Globe Theatre in London.
Reid was the replacement for the original Aunt Viv, and yes, we also noticed that both the personality and looks of Aunt Viv changed drastically. I’m sure she was easier to work with, but she just wasn’t as fun…ah well!
A well-known model in the past (first black woman on the cover of Glamour), after the show ended, Reid made appearances on shows like “In the House,” “Eve,” and most recently, “Let’s Stay Together.” An honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta, Reid and her husband, Tim Reid (who played Ray Campbell on “Sister, Sister”), own a studio in Virginia.
Jeffrey A. Townes aka DJ Jazzy Jeff
Always in awe of Hilary, and always getting thrown out by Uncle Phil, Jazz was the dimwitted best friend of Will, constantly getting him into some kind of trouble and an integral part of their iconic handshake. But after “The Fresh Prince,” DJ Jazzy Jeff focused solely on music and left the acting to Will. He is a featured character on the popular game “DJ Hero,” and has scratched on songs for the likes of The Roots, Talib Kweli and more. He’s also got a mixtape coming out soon with new rapper Mac Miller entitled, 92 Til Infinty.
I know you didn’t forget lil Nicky Banks! The youngest member of the Banks family, Nicky was a child wise above his years, and very adorable if I may add. After the show ended though, Bagley cooled out on the acting to be a normal kid. Sure, he did Independence Day and Little Rascals while on the show, but afterwards, he just did some voice work on the show “The Wild Thornberrys” and guest starred on “Judging Amy.” Bagley most recently attended college in California.
As the very lucky girlfriend/fiancée of Will, Nia Long went from doing big movies (Boyz n the Hood anyone?) to doing it big on TV. She was just as feisty as Will, and their on-screen chemistry was on-point (do you know she beat Jada Pinkett Smith out for that role?). After she finished her time on the show, Long continued to get good film work, including big roles in films like Love Jones, The Best Man, Big Momma’s House and Are We There Yet? She was also a cast member on the show “Third Watch” and did voice work for “The Cleveland Show” in its early days as Roberta Tubbs. Her last film work was 2011’s Mooz-lum, because she’s been busy being a mommy for the second time to son Kez Sunday Udoka.
You know you were wondering where they all were, so here’s the rundown real quick:
Vernee was Aunt Vy, Will’s headstrong and independent mother in Philly. Not only do I remember her feisty attitude, but I also remember when she slept with Lisa’s father (once again: “MAMA NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”). After her time on the show, aside from the movie Antwone Fisher, she’s done a lot of TV work, including “Sister, Sister” as Lisa’s best friend, “Dexter,” “ER,” and most recently, “Reed Between the Lines” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Random fact, she was also a witness for the defense in Michael Jackson’s second child molestation case in 2005.
Lewis, who always plays someone’s mother on all things TV and movie, somehow got away with being Aunt Helen on the show. Funny and crazy as usual, she made her appearances on the show very memorable. Afterwards, she kept making that money, doing films like Girl 6, The Preacher’s Wife, The Brothers, and most recently, Think Like a Man. She’s also done a lot of TV work, including the TV movie “The Temptations,” Girlfriends,” “The PJs,” and “Strong Medicine.”
As Aunt Janice, the white man marrying (which Aunt Vy was pissed about) youngest sister, Woodard was only on the show occasionally from 1990-1993. Afterwards, she was in The Crucible, and recently in a film called Things Never Said. She was also Gail Devers in the TV movie based on her life, in “Lackawanna Blues,” and guest starred on “ER.” She’s had a recurring role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Sister Peg and most recently starred in a one-woman play called “The Night Watcher.”
As old crush Jackie on the show, Banks was only on in 1993. In that time though, the model was able to keep up with Smith very easily and was pretty hilarious herself. Afterwards, like Smith, Tyra Banks blew up as a businesswoman. She continued to act, doing films like Higher Learning, Love & Basketball, Coyote Ugly, and Halloween: Resurrection. And outside of modeling as a Victoria Secret’s Angel, she became a producer for shows like her very own, “The Tyra Banks Show,” and “America’s Next Top Model.” She also became an author and graduated from Harvard’s Executive Education Program. BOSS LADY!
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