When you think of ‘90s sitcoms, there are plenty that probably come to mind, but one that stands as one of the most iconic is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Will Smith-led comedy gave viewers plenty of humor and heart during its six-season run, and this can be greatly attributed to the talents of the pitch-perfect cast. One of those stars is the wonderful Daphne Maxwell Reid, who fans came to know as Vivian “Aunt Viv” Banks. The actress recently joined her former co-stars for the HBO Max reunion special but, ahead of its premiere, she graciously took some time to chat with me.
Daphne Maxwell Reid has had an extensive career, having appeared on various shows like The A-Team and WKRP in Cincinnati before she even set foot on the set of Fresh Prince. Although Reid joined the cast in 1993 at the start of Season 4, she explained to me that she actually had the chance to audition ahead the show’s original 1990 debut:
The opportunity to play Vivian Banks would soon come back around for Daphne Maxwell Reid, however and, after auditioning for two and a half weeks and doing five readings, she landed the role. Joining the cast, of course, meant that Reid would be working alongside the rising megastar that was Will Smith. Some may have varying ideas about Smith’s personality due to his public persona, but Reid saw a hard-working and inquisitive kindred spirit:
Given where Will Smith has ended up in his career, it’s no surprise to hear that he was so ambitious, even when he was just getting started in Hollywood. Daphne Maxwell Reid also highlighted his keen skills as an actor, though she says Smith doesn’t believe he was all that good at it at the time:
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air allowed Daphne Maxwell Reid to work with a number of talented stars, including the late, great James Avery. The actor, who humorously and affectionately played the role of Philip Banks, was able to charm both audiences and his castmates, and Reid spoke on what she remembers most about working with him:
Interestingly, it was that love of dancing that actually influened Reid’s favorite episode of the show. And it’s definitely a classic:
Memories like these are what make The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air such a special show and give you a sense of the great chemistry the cast had. Daphne Maxwell Reid may have joined the show when it was reaching new heights in its popularity, but she had no trouble meshing with her co-stars, who she says were “warm and giving” and “embraced” her as if she had been there from the beginning.
All of this love is sure to be more than evident in the upcoming reunion special and, based on that trailer, the cast shared more than a few special moments as they reminisced about working together. It’ll be exciting to see what Daphne Maxwell Reid, Will Smith and their Fresh Prince family have planned.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion arrives on HBO Max on Thursday, November 19 and, before you check it out, you can stream past episodes (opens in new tab) of the show as well.
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