While Will Smith Had His Fresh Prince Feuds, Sitcom Vet Tatyana Ali Says Karyn Parsons Is Still Like Her Big Sister Years Later

Tatyana Ali sitting during The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans have enjoyed the loving, on-screen bond among the Banks family for two decades now. While some of those personal connections were highlighted more prominently than others, the one between Hilary and Ashley Banks felt particularly authentic, despite the characters being polar opposites. That sisterly bond seems to have seeped into real life as well, as actresses Tatyana Ali and Karyn Parsons apparently shared the same kind of relationship off camera. We've since learned that Will Smith had his on-set feuds but, on the flip side of that, Ali spoke about why Parsons has still like her big sister even in the years since the sitcom ended.

It's hard to believe that the two actresses haven't actually acting alongside each other since 1996, which is when the Fresh Prince finale. Yet the connection is still strong and came into play as Tatyana Ali competed on VH1's RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race as Chakra 7. During the competition, Karyn Parsons rooted her TV little sister on by sending a sweet video message. After competing on the show, Ali spoke with People about how supportive she and her co-star of each other’s projects:

Karyn's like my sister. So we always cheer each other on her, with her writing and production and me with my performance stuff. And I'm like, Can we get closer?

It's so sweet that they've managed to keep their sisterly relationship going in the years since Fresh Prince ended. That kind of connection is refreshing, given that there can be tension and fractured relationships among some sitcom co-stars, who typically don't open up about said strife until years later. Given how young Tatyana Ali was when the classic sitcom premiered in 1990, it’s understandable that she would've gravitated towards Karyn Parsons as a sister-like figure at the time. Clearly, she still appreciates her support today.

Hilary and Ashley Banks (Karyn Parsons and Tatyana Ali) on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

(Image credit: NBC)

When it comes to her recent Drag Race gig, the Ashley Banks actress mentioned that her co-star’s support really helped her, as she attempted to truly get out of her comfort zone for the first time in her career. The 43-year-old actress referred to her friend's support as being "more an example of how close [he] are." She felt that she “could trust sharing” such an "experimental" professional experience with Karyn Parsons.

While those former co-stars are still close, most fans know not everyone on the NBC sitcom got along. Will Smith and OG Aunt Viv Janet Hubert notoriously had a feud that continued years after Hubert left the comedy series following Season 3 over contract issues. Ali could recall the on-set tension between Smith and Hubert permeating the set before her departure. Of course, after their emotional conversation during the HBO Max reunion, the former co-stars have patched things up, with Hubert even revealing that they text back and forth regularly. For his part, Smith revealed that their conversation was impactful, as it helped him to heal during the writing process for his memoir, Will.

I'm just glad the two are now on good terms like Tatyana Ali and Karyn Parsons and, now more than ever, I'd like to see all of them work together again. Maybe they can guest star on Peacock’s Bel-Air, much like OG stars Daphne Maxwell-Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson in Season 1. You can catch the Fresh Prince reimagining by getting a Peacock Premium subscription. You can also watch every season of the original show using an HBO Max subscription.

Adreon Patterson
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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).