‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’: Where Are They Now?
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air introduced audiences to Will Smith’s adventures with the Banks Family, many, many short jokes, and, of course, the Carlton Dance. The music and clothes are old-school, but the show remains a timeless favorite to its fans. So what is the cast up to these days?
Will Smith followed The Fresh Prince by ascending to Hollywood royalty. In 1996, the same year the show ended, Smith starred in Independence Day, followed by Men in Black (1997) and Enemy of the State (1998). He continued headlining in a string of Hollywood films with much box office success. But in 2013, he starred with his son, Jaden Smith, in the sci-fi adventure After Earth — a box office flop that he called “the most painful failure” of his career. He bounced back with the DC Comics film Suicide Squad (2016), as an assassin named Deadshot, before pulling out all the stops as Genie in the live-action adaptation of Aladdin (2019). Smith has been married to actress Jada Pinkett Smith since 1997, and since then, their coupledom has been the stuff of tabloid fodder, along with their kids, Jaden (b. 1998) and Willow (b. 2000).
Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks)
After appearing for six seasons as Will’s preppy and uptight cousin, Carlton, Alfonso Ribeiro starred with LL Cool J in the television show In the House and scored numerous cameo roles on TV and film. But the Bronx-born actor says he was pigeonholed by the show, preventing his acting career from really taking off. In 2014, Ribeiro partnered with Witney Carson to win season 19 of Dancing with the Stars, along the way giving fans a taste of the famous Carlton Dance, which he invented. “The dance is ultimately Courteney Cox in the Bruce Springsteen video ‘Dancing in the Dark.’” he said. Riberio followed that success by replacing Tom Bergeron as host of America’s Funniest Home Videos and landing his own Cooking Channel series, Unwrapped 2.0.
James Avery (Uncle Phil)
As Phillips Banks, James Avery played the patriarch of the family, and though his patience was tested each week, he was always a loving dad and uncle. Avery was a successful voice actor for such shows as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (he voiced Shredder) and the animated series Iron Man. He also had a role on That 70s Show. In December 2013, at age 68, Avery died due to complications following heart surgery. Following Avery’s death, Smith shared on social media: “Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery.”
Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks)
As the spoiled, ditzy princess of the Banks family, Hilary (played by Karyn Parsons) didn’t win over as many fans as her castmates. Her screen roles post-FPOBA never got the attention of her work as Smith’s cousin (unless you’re a really, really big fan of The Ladies Man). She went on to found Sweet Blackberry, a non-profit whose mission is to bring little-known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere, before publishing her debut novel, How High the Moon.
Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey Butler)
It’s been decades since The Fresh Prince ended, but people around the world still yell “Geoffrey” when they encounter Joseph Marcell, the classically trained actor who played the sardonic butler on the show. Marcell has compiled his share of screen credits since then, including a stint on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, but mainly found success via the stage in productions of Shakespeare’s King Lear, The Tempest and Macbeth.
Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks)
The most down-to-earth sibling on the show, Ashley Banks was, for many tween audience members, the cast member they related to the most. Her struggles with becoming a teen was a recurring theme. (Who can forget the episode when she was accused of shoplifting?) After the show ended, Tatyana Ali pursued a recording career, starred in such indie flicks as The Clown at Midnight, oh, and graduated from Harvard. Along with nabbing leading roles in the series Love That Girl! and Second Generation Wayans, the former child star has proven to be fully grown by starting a family of her own.
Janet Hubert and Daphne Maxwell Reid (Aunt Vivian)
As Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert rode the success of the show but when she got pregnant, things got real. Real ugly. She claimed the producers forced her out of her role, but rumor has it there was tension between her and Smith. Whatever the case, Hubert left FPOBA but continued to have TV roles on shows such as Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Bernie Mac Show and General Hospital. She was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid, a model-turned-actress who has since pursued other creative interests as a photographer, designer and author.