Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Star Recalls The ‘Tension’ On Set Between Will Smith And The Original Aunt Viv Actress

Will Smith as himself and Janet Hubert as Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990)

It goes without saying that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television. The six-season show brought in firm ratings for NBC and solidified Will Smith as a bonafide actor. However, many know the show also faced a bit of controversy due to the reported feud between Smith and Janet Hubert, the first actress to play Vivian Banks. While the two have since reconciled, Tatyana Ali can still remember the “tension” that was present on set in the midst of their dispute.

Tatyana Ali was the youngest of the main cast members on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With this, she was mostly kept away from the situation that was brewing between Will Smith and Janet Hubert. But as the actress recently recalled on Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show, the tension was more than apparent during production:

I remember it being a tense time. I wasn’t privy to all of the ins and outs because I was little. When I wasn’t on set, I was in my classroom. I do remember the doors going from opened to closed, all the dressing room doors. There was tension. I knew that, I was a kid, and I knew that. And I was apprehensive when we knew [Will and Janet’s conversation] was going to happen because so much has been said back and forth between different people, not just between Will and Janet but between other people as well. I didn’t know how that was gonna be.

The friction between Will Smith and Janet Hubert started while the cast was working on Fresh Prince’s third season, during which Hubert became pregnant. On top of this, Hubert was offered a new contract, one that she viewed as unsatisfactory. This ultimately led her to depart the show though, at the time, many inaccurately reported that she had been fired. After the situation, Hubert’s career suffered and work became scarce for her. She and Smith also didn’t talk to each other for nearly 27 years.

Given their history, many were surprised when Smith and Hubert reunited on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion. The special gave the two actors the opportunity to hash out their differences, and it allowed Hubert to tell her side of the story. The talk ultimately led to a warm embrace between them and a later reunion between Hubert and her other former co-stars.

Hubert is still well known for her role as Vivian Banks, and many fans continue to show love to her for her performance. Tatyana Ali also looked up to her and recently opened up about how she viewed Hubert as a major source of representation for herself and other young viewers at the time.

Like many of us, Tatyana Ali is thrilled that Will Smith and Janet Hubert are on speaking terms again. It couldn’t have been easy for Ali to see the two feuding, so the moment the actors patched things up must have been incredibly emotional for her. Let’s be honest, it was definitely a tearful moment.

You can check the heart and humor of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion by streaming it on HBO Max, where you’ll also find all six seasons of the original show.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.