“Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down.” That is the opening line from the memorable theme song of the iconic sitcom, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. The series revolved around Will Smith, who played a fictionalized version of himself. While living in Philadelphia, he gets into fights at the basketball courts. His mother sends him to live with his rich aunt and uncle in Bel-Air to avoid similar situations. She wants him to have a better life and get a good education. The street smart and wise-cracking Will, has to adjust to his wealthy relatives' lifestyle, which clashes with his. The series starred Will Smith, Tatyana Ali, Joseph Marcell, James Avery, Janet Hubert, Alfonso Ribeiro, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Karyn Parsons, Ross Bagley and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired on NBC for six seasons. The series ran from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. Andy Borowitz and Susan Borowitz created the series. Andy received a NAACP Image Award for his work on Fresh Prince. The series is very well known for the opening theme song, “Yo Home To Bel-Air”. The opening theme explains the backstory of how Will ends up knocking on the front door of a gigantic mansion in L.A. The theme song was written and performed by Will Smith. The series was enormously popular and the theme song is still remembered to this day. Recently, there have been rumors of a possible reboot of the series. At the time, the cast became huge celebrities but what happened to these great actors since the end of the series? Some are even bigger Hollywood stars, while others may not be in the spotlight but continue to have great success. Here is a look at the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Where Are They Know? “And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the Prince of a town called Bel-Air.”
12 Tyra Banks: Jackie Ames
11 Ross Bagley: Nicholas “Nicky” Banks
Ross Bagley played the role of Nicky Banks. He was the youngest child of the Banks Family and Will’s little cousin. Ross Bagley got his big break with his role on Fresh Prince. For the season four episode, “'Twas The Night Before Christening”, Gregory Wheeler played the role of baby Nicky. In season five, Nicky went from being a baby to a preschooler and Ross took over the role for the last two seasons. He also played the role of Buckwheat in The Little Rascals Movie. After Fresh Prince, he appeared in Independence Day, Eye For An Eye and Judging Amy. In 2011, he enrolled at the California State University for Cinema and Television Arts.
10 Nia Long: Lisa Wilkes
9 Joseph Marcell: Geoffrey Butler
Joseph Marcell played the role of Geoffrey Butler, the Banks' Family Butler. He was sarcastic and cynical. Early in his career, Joseph appeared in television shows such as, The Professionals, Rumpole of The Bailey and Doctor Who. He had his biggest success with his role on Fresh Prince. After Fresh Prince ended, he continued both his theater and TV acting career. He’s a member of The Royal Shakespeare Theater and serves on the board of Globe Theater in London. He’s appeared in plays such as, King Lear, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Othello. He also appeared on several TV series, including EastEnders, Death In Paradise and The Bold and the Beautiful.
8 Daphne Maxwell Reid: 2nd Vivian Banks
Daphne Maxwell Reid played the role of the second Vivian Banks. Vivian was the mother of the Banks family and Will’s aunt. Daphne started her career in modelling and was the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Glamour. She took over the role of Vivian Banks from Janet Hubert, in 1993, which she played till the end of the series. Her version of Vivian was a homemaker and not as fiery as the previous incarnation, although she still deeply loved her family. The sudden change of character was referenced in the show when Will’s best friend Jazz, comments, “You know, Mrs. Banks, ever since you had that baby, there’s something different about you.” Will then breaks the fourth wall and stares uncomfortably into the camera. After the end of Fresh Prince, She had roles on Crossing Jordan, Eve and Let’s Stay Together. Along with her husband Tim Reid, they opened the New Millennium Studios, and she received the Women of Vision Award from Women In Film & TV.
7 Janet Hubert: The 1st Vivian Banks
Janet Hubert played the role of the original Vivian Banks. Vivian was the mother of the Banks Family and Will’s aunt. Before Fresh Prince, Janet appeared in the Broadway play, Cats. She also had roles on TV series, such as 21 Jump Street and Tales From The Crypt. She played the role of Vivian Banks for the first three seasons, from 1991 to 1993. She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award For Outstanding Actress in a Comedy for her role as Vivian. Janet’s version of Vivian was straightforward, outspoken and career minded. Apparently, Will and Janet had many creative differences and didn’t get along behind the scenes. She was fired after the third season and replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid for the rest of the series. In 2013, she said that she’d like to put the over 20-year feud with Will behind her and move on. After Fresh Prince, she appeared on One Life To Live, Friends and Gilmore Girls. She has many health issues and suffers from osteoporosis. She is an ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
6 DJ Jazzy Jeff: Jazz
5 Tatyana Ali: Ashley Banks
4 Alfonso Ribeiro: Carlton Banks
3 Karyn Parsons: Hilary Banks
2 James Avery: Philip Banks
1 Will Smith: “The Fresh Prince” Will Smith
Will Smith played the main character of the series. Will Smith started his career as a rapper and was a member of the duo, The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. They won two Grammy Awards for the singles “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime”. Eventually, he owed $2.8 million in taxes and the IRS garnished his income and took many of his possessions. He was nearly bankrupt when the deal with NBC for Fresh Prince was being put together. The series was a huge success and helped launch his acting career. After the show ended, Smith became a major movie star. He starred in several films, such as Independence Day, Bad Boys, Six Degrees of Separation and Men In Black. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for his critically acclaimed roles in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Will continued his music career and released the albums, Big Willie Style, Willennium and Lost and Found. He will be starring in the upcoming sports drama, Concussion, and the DC film, Suicide Squad. He is married to actress Jada Pinkett Smith and they have two children; Jaden and Willow.