Fresh Prince Vet Tatyana Ali Explains Why Bel-Air Season 2 Guest Spot Was Such An Unexpectedly Emotional Return

Mrs. Hughes (Tatyana Ali) on Bel-Air
(Image credit: Peacock)

After popping up in the Bel-Air Season 2 trailer, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans were excited to see Tatyana Ali join the Fresh Prince reboot's cast. While viewers haven’t seen Ali in action quite yet, they were emotional seeing her once again. However, they weren’t the only ones in their feelings as the Fresh Prince alum explained why her upcoming guest spot was unexpectedly emotional for her.

When most fans think of Ashley Banks, Ali likely comes to mind for multiple generations. However, now, viewers get to see a new take on the youngest Banks child in the reboot (available with a Peacock subscription) with child actress Akira Akbar in the role, while the OG Fresh Prince actress plays English literature teacher, Mrs. Hughes, who serves as a mentor to the young Ashley Banks. Returning to Bel-Air Academy was quite surreal for the former child star. She revealed to ET that being on her old stomping grounds was “weird.” Upon stepping on the Bel-Air set, the Fresh Prince vet recalled having a “really meta” moment being surrounded by the same uniforms. Experiencing a full-circle moment eventually led to an unexpectedly emotional release after filming one scene. She said:  

I think after one of my final scenes with Akira, I asked the director, 'Are we finished? Is there another setup?' And he was like, 'No, we got it, that was good, we got it.' And I said thank you and I walked back behind one of the walls and [tears] just came down like a flood. It's just a full-circle moment and what my character was saying to her, it felt very much like I was looking at myself in a way. You always connect to your character like that anyway and the other actors in that way, it's always personal on some level, but this was just another thing.

Having Ashley Banks talk to Ashley Banks will be a very meta moment for all fans. This is especially true considering Ali still shares a special connection with the character almost three decades after the original series ended. It appeared the OG Fresh Prince star was ready to do more scenes with the cast. Ali spent most of her childhood and adolescence playing the second-youngest Banks for six seasons. She wanted to be the representation for the young actress like what OG Aunt Viv Janet Hubert and TV big sister Karyn Parson were to her.

Tatyana Ali revealed that before stepping on the Bel-Air set director Matthew Cherry had her FaceTime with Akbar. Upon meeting with the Bel-Air star, she spoke highly of the young actress as they connected over their shared role.

She's just so beautiful and so genuine... and I just told her, 'We're a very small sorority, it's just me and you. We're the only two Ashley Banks that have ever been. Do your thing, you know, let your light shine.' And I think she has, very much so.

The Fresh Prince alum admitted to having some apprehension about the reimagining before it aired. However, signing on for her recurring role changed he mind as she watched the new Ashley Banks actress on set. She even had more praise for the young star, calling Akbar “incredible.” Ali also called playing the youngest Banks daughter a "blessing." So it seems like it's all love on the set of Bel-Air.

If you want to watch Tatyana Ali’s guest spot, check out Bel-Air Season 2 when it premieres on February 23. After watching the reboot series, revisit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by getting an HBO Max subscription.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).