The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Then and Now
It defined an era and will always be considered a classic. From Will Smith to Aunt Viv to Carlton, the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are all grown up. Check out the cast now, more than 20 years after the final episode aired.
Will Smith was the central character, essentially himself, who was sent to live with his rich uncle in Beverly Hills to get him out of his rough Philly neighborhood. The star of the show, Will Smith hasn’t changed much over the years. He still lights up a room with his boyish smile and good looks. Now, his film career has solidified him as Hollywood royalty while he supports his two children, Willow and Jaden, who are musicians themselves.
We all know the Carlton dance. Alfonso Ribeiro, better known as Cartlton Banks, played Will’s uptight yet mischievous cousin on the show who always ratted Will out. The actor has noted over the years that he feels his role on the show “pigeonholed” him, making it difficult for him to get cast in other roles. However, he’s found a lot of screen time with reality television, even winning a season of Dancing With the Stars.
DJ Jazzy Jeff
You probably remembering most being thrown out the front door by Uncle Phil. DJ Jazzy Jeff played Will’s best friend on the show, but the friend chemistry was real. The two were real life friends before and after the show. They even won the first rap Grammy together in 1989. He continued his music career after the show rather than continue acting, working more recently with artists like Mac Miller and audio for the film Straight Outta Compton.
James Avery played Uncle Phil, the head of the family who always had to deal with Will’s shenanigans while also being the family’s rock and stability. Following the show, he was wildly successful, doing voiceovers for shows like the Wild Thornberrys and The Proud Family. Sadly, Avery passed in 2015. Will Smith wrote that “Every young man needs an Uncle Phil.”
Tatyana Ali started playing Ashley at 11 years of age, and we all watched as she grew up from season to season. She was Will’s cousin, but more like the little sister he doted on and protected. She pursued both acting and music following the end of the show.
Karyn Parsons starred as Hilary Banks, Will’s bougie older cousin who wasn’t always the sharpest knife in the box. While she hasn’t been on screen much since the show ended, she currently runs Sweet Blackberry, a film company aimed at educating children on influential African Americans.
Who could forget Geoffrey, the lovable and loyal butler? He was sharp-witted and provided a great edge to the family drama on the show. He also appeared on The Bold and the Beautiful and EastEnders. Today, he serves on the board of the Globe Theater and performs in Shakespearean productions on the big stage.
Janet Hubert starred as the original Aunt Vivian on the show for the first 3 seasons. There were a lot of rumors at the time, with most pointing to the actress clashing on set with Will Smith. She maintains today that that wasn’t the case, but that rumors got out of hand and led to her leaving. Despite this, she posted as late as 2017 when show reboot rumors started to swirl, “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.”
Daphne Maxwell Reid
Aunt Vivian number 2 was played by Daphne Maxwell Reid. She popped up at the beginning of season 4 to the surprise of fans. She worked on other shows over the years, including Crossing Jordan, Eve and Let’s Stay Together. She married star of Tia and Tamara, making an iconic 90s couple. She currently runs a photography business called Fresh Prints.