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Before he was Jack Pearson on This Is Us, Peter Petrelli on Heroes, or Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls, Milo Ventimiglia was "Party Guest #1" on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ventimiglia's character is far from the most memorable part of the episode, and while the world may have forgotten his first taste of stardom, the actor still remembers a valuable lesson he learned that day on set. That lesson came from none other than Will Smith, whose kindness left such an impact on Ventimiglia that he was inspired to act the same way in his future projects:
My very first paying gig was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I remember Will Smith being the kindest person to his entire crew and [to] me -- a guy who had one line on that set. That's what I wanna inspire to when it's my show. Not only do you have to put in the work, but also [you have] be a good person. Respect everyone around, inspire and make sure everyone in the crew and the cast and everyone feels welcome. So, that was the best lesson I've learned and [that] was my first paying job.
This is one of those "butterfly effect" stories that prove one can never know just how their actions will affect others down the road. When Will Smith saw Milo Ventimiglia on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in 1995, he had no way of knowing just how prolific this extra in his show would become. In fact, he didn't know what anyone on the show would do following their filming of "Bourgie Sings The Blues," but that didn't seem to matter much as Ventimiglia recalled Smith treating everyone as kindly as possible. In showing such kindness, Smith imparted some unintentional wisdom to Ventimiglia, who told ET he went on to pay it forward by acting the same towards others on the set of his future shows.
What makes this story even better is that Will Smith had no reason to interact with Milo Ventimiglia in the first place! Neither of their characters are near each other during Ventimiglia's shining moment on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, in which he played an obnoxious party guest. In the episode, Ventimiglia's character is first seen bounding down the stairs with a girl in hand. When confronted by Ashley, Ventimiglia's character then heavily implied he made out with the girl in someone's bedroom, probably Carlton's. The line is as cheesy now as it was then, but it's seriously fun to to watch now knowing the guy who played that douchey party guest would eventually become one of television's favorite dads:
Milo Ventimiglia is currently starring on This Is Us, which is all-new on NBC this Tuesday, January 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Those wishing to binge The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air won't have much luck finding the series on streaming, but re-runs of the series frequently run on VH1, BET, and Nickelodeon, so those with a cable subscription shouldn't have much trouble getting their Fresh Prince fix. For a look at some new or returning shows that will be coming to television in 2018, visit our midseason premiere guide.