The iconic cast of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunited for their 30th anniversary — including a special reunion with Will Smith and Janet Hubert, the original Aunt Viv.
Hubert notoriously had problems with the show’s direction and specifically with Smith.
Hubert said that in her exit from the show, she never had a chance to share her side of the story. In the trailer, she told Smith, her personal life greatly affected the way she showed up to work with her castmates.
“Something I would like to clarify is during that third season when I got pregnant, there were a lot of things going on in my life and in Will’s life as well,” Hubert said. “There was some friction because I was pregnant. Homelife was not good at all. I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things that were going on that nobody knew about. The cast had no idea what was going on… What you didn’t realize either was I was going through a lot at home. You didn’t know. Very abusive marriage.”
Hubert revealed that her work environment didn’t provide a sense of solace.
“They offered me this really bad deal in the third season,” she continued. “They said, ‘You’ve got two months and two weeks of work, and you cannot work anywhere else.’ So, that meant my salary was cut. I had a new baby and a husband who was out of work. So, I said no. I did not accept their offer. I was never fired. So the misconception was always put out there. I was trapped. What could I do? So, they said, ‘Okay, then we’re going to recast your role.’ And I said, ‘What can I say?’ I was hurt deeply, deeply.”
After Hubert left the show, she says that things went from bad to worse.
“When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one,” Hubert told Smith. “Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me. My family said, ‘You’ve ruined our name.’ And, I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I’d been banished. They said it was you who banished me because you were Will. You were a kid. It was hard.”
During their sit down, Smith apologized to Hubert for his lack of sensitivity to her.
“During that time, her pregnancy, I wasn’t sensitive. I wasn’t perceptive, and now that I’ve had three kids, I’ve learned some things that I did not know at the time, and I would do things very differently. But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet. “I was 21-years-old. Everything was a threat to me. Not you, the world. I was so driven by fear and jokes and comedy and all of that. [Now,] I have children. I’ve been divorced and have a second marriage. I can see, now, the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up every day.”
Hubert said that Smith calling her difficult in the public eye made securing work incredibly difficult for her after leaving the show.
“You know, words can kill,” Hubert said to Smith. “I lost everything. Reputation, everything. Everything. I understand you were able to move forward, but you know those words, calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.”
Will thanked Hubert for sharing that perspective.
“First of all, thank you for sharing that with me. I didn’t know that. When I look back now, it’s obvious that you were having a hard time. I felt like you hated me. I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you, celebrate your contribution to this show, celebrate your contribution to my life. Twenty-seven years, I think. I think we were just short of 27 years that we didn’t speak to one another, and I’m glad we’re talking again.”
Herbert agreed that it was time for the two of them to make amends.
“I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward,” Hubert said. “And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces. I have to say; after 27 years being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together, it’s healing. I didn’t come here to have animosity; I came here to resolve because it’s time.”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion premieres Thursday (Nov. 19th) on HBO Max.