In the history of television, there are certain characters that manage to transcend their small-screen roots and become true mainstays within the pop culture zeitgeist. Sitcoms have produced quite a few iconic characters, and one of them is most definitely The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Carlton Banks. The nerdy and lovable preppy is an excellent character, which is greatly due to the performance of Alfonso Ribeiro. But as perfect as the actor was for the role, Ribeiro is still embarrassed by his original audition for the role.
One of the best parts of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion is that it allowed Alfonso Ribeiro, Will Smith and their co-stars to relive some of the earliest moments from the popular show. This included viewing Ribeiro and Karyn Parsons’ original auditions. As you would expect, the actors found it a bit cringy to watch their vintage auditions, but Ribeiro has expanded on why he’s a bit embarrassed by his:
First of all, you think about how most people when they go to auditions, they go to auditions dressed like what they think the character would look like. I’m in an Adidas running tracksuit, which is so not this character. I’ve never been a good auditioner, so I looked at it and I was like, ‘Oh, that just didn’t look good to me at all.’ The acting was bad, I don’t know how I got the job from that audition. Shoot, I wouldn’t have given me the job if I came in and auditioned the way that I auditioned. I guess they saw something, but I didn’t see it.
As Alfonso Ribeiro explained to Extra, he’s still not over the fact that his attire was so out of tune with the character of Carlton, and he does have a point. Let’s be honest, Carlton is less of a tracksuit and sneakers kind of guy and more of a polo shirt and loafers sort of gentlemen. But clothes aside, the producers were still able to see the potential in the young Ribeiro’s delivery.
Alfonso Ribeiro starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for all six seasons of its run. While the role brought him widespread recognition, it also caused him to become almost exclusively connected to the role. This led to him being typecast after the show’s run, which caused him to hold a bit of resentment towards the iconic character for a while.
Despite going through that period, Ribeiro still holds great affection for his fan-favorite character and his iconic dance. The actor has since moved on to other productions like America’s Funniest Home Videos, but he still catches up with his Fresh Prince family often. He spoke highly of the reunion special and seems to have relished the opportunity to reflect on the series with his co-stars.
It’s honestly hard to believe Alfonso Ribeiro wasn’t satisfied with his Fresh Prince audition, especially when you consider just how well he embodied the role in the years that followed. But if anything, fans should just be grateful the powers that be saw fit to give him the job, despite his choice of attire.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and its reunion special are currently available to stream on HBO Max.