The Original Aunt Viv Responds To The Fresh Prince Reunion Photo & It’s Too Hot For TV
On Monday (March 27), Alfonso Ribeiro, former star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, posted a photo to his Instagram that took on a life of its own. The portrait pictured him along with several other members of the cast, in what went viral as a 20-year reunion photo, given that it had been a little over 20 years since the airing of the show’s last episode. Among the chief comments about the pic were sadness at the absence of the late James Avery, who played “Uncle Phil,” and questions about the original “Aunt Viv,” portrayed by Janet Hubert. As fans may recall, Hubert was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid, after 3 seasons.
In speaking about the show, during the 25th anniversary of its initial airing, Karyn Parsons (“Hilary”) referred to the cast as a “family” both on and off screen. Based on the appearance of the members of the cast in the reunion photo, reportedly taken at a charity event hosted by Parsons, the familial ties run strong. However, as with all families, it’s complicated and, inevitably, there are rifts.
In Hubert’s case, that rift apparently developed well before her exit after Season 3. Shortly after her departure, Will Smith commented about her in a 1993 interview with an Atlanta radio station. “I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show, because I know she is going to dog me in the press,” the actor said at the time. “She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.'”
Ribeiro, who played “Carlton” on the show, re-affirmed Smith’s comments, during a comedy set, saying of Hubert “You know, legally I’m not allowed to talk about it. But hey, why not? Basically, at the end of the day, the [he bleeped himself] was crazy. I did not curse…She went nuts! Long story short, and there were days when we were all on the set and she would literally go off on people and they got to a point by the time the second season came around where we’re like, ‘This is unacceptable.’ We felt like, when we were doing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that we were a family…She, at that point, ruined that, and she made it very difficult for us to work, and unfortunately she was then fired. They brought in Daphne Maxwell-Reid, who we absolutely loved, and we moved on. Oh well.”
On Hubert’s side of the story, she blamed the friction on both Smith and Ribeiro, telling omg!INSIDER Smith did “some heinous, horrible things to me—they were like bad kids, Will and Alfonso—especially Alfonso. He said that I was crazy and nobody wanted to go to lunch with me.” Hubert also blamed the bad blood on Smith’s refusal to stand up for the cast during financial negotiations and his telling insensitive jokes about people with dark skin before episode tapings.
Over the years, Smith has been much more complimentary of Hubert, telling the BBC in 2016, “I think that both of the Aunt Vivs were really, really fantastic” and ” I think that Janet Hubert Whitten brought a really powerful dignity to the show.” There has been no thawing for Hubert, however, as, many times, she has spoken out about Smith, including after his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, announced her boycott of the 2016 Academy Awards. Hubert used the occasion to comment, again, on her allegations of Smith’s selfishness. “I seem to remember at option time, coming to you and saying … ‘With you, maybe we can get a little raise.’ [We thought] your influence would help us greatly, like they did on Friends.” According to Hubert, Smith’s response was “My deal is my deal, and y’alls deal is y’alls deal.”
Around the same time as the Oscars controversy, Hubert also spoke about the possibility of a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion, telling TMZ “There will never be a reunion … as I will never do anything with an a**hole like Will Smith. He is still an egomaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, which he doesn’t know the word.”
Apparently, there was no apology from Smith because, as the world has now seen, Hubert was not a part of the reunion photo that was captured on Monday. To say that her reaction to the photo was strong, would be an understatement. In a post to Facebook, which has since been deleted, but which was captured by HipHopDX, she stated “I know the media hoe Alphonso Ribero has posted his so called reunion photo. Folks keep telling me about it. He was always the ass wipe for Will. There will never be a true reunion of the Fresh Prince. I have no interest in seeing any of these people on that kind of level. I am not offended in the least, by this photo… it was an event for Karen’s charity. It does however prompt me to take some meetings in Hollywood to pitch my memoir PERFECTION IS NOT A SITCOM MOM, and tell of the behind the scenes story before I leave this earth.”
In a response to a comment left by a fan on her page, Hubert went even further, saying “This was from the dumb ass Alphonso Ribero, who likes to try and be the spokesperson for the show. He is Will’s tampon…has been for a long long time.”
In Hubert’s most recent related post, she uploaded a 16-minute long clip of highlights between herself and James Avery, with a caption saying “To all my future Blacktresses…you must be a duck to endure the PUBIC EYE…not a misspelling. Let shit roll off your back. Say your peace, hold to your convictions…DON’T KISS ASS…KICK ASS. (the cowgirl creed).”