Don’t expect to see Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv on the first three seasons of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” reuniting with her former co-stars anytime soon. “There will never be a true reunion of the ‘Fresh Prince,” Hubert wrote on Facebook Tuesday in reaction to a reunion photo of the cast shared by Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks on the NBC show. “I have no interest in seeing any of these people on that kind of level.”
This isn’t the first time Hubert has blasted her former cast mates. During last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the actress slammed Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, for suggesting that black actors should consider boycotting the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony. As Pinkett-Smith explained in a video posted to Facebook, the couple — who met on “The Fresh Prince” set — decided to skip the ceremony after several prominent films featuring minorities failed to receive Oscar nominations. But Hubert, in a widely circulated YouTube video, said the boycott suggestion was akin to asking black actors “to jeopardize their career and their standing” in Hollywood.
Ultimately, Hubert’s beef with her former co-stars goes back even further — all the way back to Bel-Air.
Hubert offered some context for her longstanding fued with Smith in the 2016 video. “I seem to remember at option time coming to you and saying, ‘You know what, Will, you’re the star of the show, why don’t we all get together and with you maybe we could get a little raise,’ ” Hubert recalled. ” ‘Maybe the network, since, you know, the show is such a hit and you being the star of the show, your influence would help us greatly, like they did on ‘Friends,’ like white shows do.’ Remember that?”
“And your response to me was my deal is my deal and y’alls deal is y’alls deal,” Hubert added.
Hubert left the show in 1993 and was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid. The actress wrote about being fired from the show in her 2009 memoir, “Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom,” in which she painted Smith as egotistical. She has continued to speak about her experience in recent years. In 2011, Hubert called Smith “an egomaniac,” telling TMZ that she would not be part of any “Fresh Prince” reunion “as I will never do anything with an a–hole like Will Smith.”
The Aunt Viv switch was notable for fans of the sitcom. For one, Reid had a noticeably lighter skin tone than Hubert. And despite whatever controversy may have been brewing backstage, many fans saw no reason for Hubert to have been replaced. Admit it, you never saw the second Aunt Viv dance like this:
Writer Luvvie Ajayi highlighted the controversy on her blog, Awesomely Luvvie, in a 2013 post titled “5 Reasons Why No One Is Here for Aunt Viv 2.0 From Fresh Prince.”
“We loved Aunt Viv 1.0, also known as Dark Aunt Viv. She was the truth. Fierce. Strong. FAHN. We loved her FIERCELY. And they say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They fixed it and broke it!” Ajayi wrote.
Earlier this year, Buzzfeed imagined what went down in the NBC studios in a parody video called “What REALLY Happened to Aunt Viv?”
Hubert has been far more outspoken than Smith about the feud, though the actor did address the matter in a radio interview, according to Us Weekly.
“She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along,” Smith reportedly told an Atlanta radio station. “She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her I’m just the Antichrist.”
For the record, Smith has gotten support from other “Fresh Prince” alums.
Ribeiro was candid in a 2009 appearance at State University of New York at Oneonta. “I had an absolutely amazing time working with Will, with Tatyana [Ali] and James [Avery] and Karyn [Parsons] and everybody was great,” the actor recalled. “First mom? Not so much.”
“Basically, at the end of the day… the b—h was crazy,” Ribeiro said. “She went nuts, long story short, and there were days where we were on the set and she would literally go off on people and it got to a point, by the time the second season came around, where we’re like ‘this is unacceptable.’
“She made it very difficult for us to work and unfortunately, she was then fired,” Ribeiro told the crowd.
In 2011, after Hubert’s TMZ interview, Ali, who played Ashley Banks, told the Grio that Smith was “the same person he was the day I met him until now. So I don’t know where that came from. That was not my experience at all.”
This post, originally published on January 19, 2016, has been updated.