We can thank The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for introducing us to Will Smith. Many consider the show his breakthrough role. In the Prince, Will Smith has adventures with the Banks family followed by many jokes. And who can forget the Carlton Dance? The music and clothes resemble old-school, but it remains a timeless classic. And it is a fan favorite. But what happened to the cast of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
The first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired more than 30 years ago. The show went on air from 1990 to 1996. In the show, Smith played a fictionalized version of himself. After that, Smith went on to star in many hit movies, including franchises like Men in Black and Bad Boys.
Some of the cast members shifted outside of the entertainment industry. Let’s see what happened to everyone on the show.
We have to start with the star cast member. This show introduced the audience to Will Smith. He played a fictionalized version of himself. In the show, he got sent to his aunt and uncle’s fancy home in a ritzy California suburb. And there, he quickly blended with the family as a beloved part.
Following the Fresh Prince, Smith ascended to Hollywood royalty. The same year the show ended, Smith appeared in Independence Day. And then in 1997, he appeared in Men in Black, launching a movie franchise in the process. He starred in Men in Black 2 and Men in Black 3 as well. The first Men in Black earned more than $550 million at the box office.
Smith also helped launch the Bad Boys movie franchise. The first movie appeared while he still filmed the Prince. Bad Boys appeared in 1995 and earned $141 million at the box office. Future Bad Boys movies also earned millions.
In 2006, Smith introduced his son to the world of Hollywood. The two had a successful run with The Pursuit of Happiness. They also appeared together in After Earth in 2013. This sci-fi adventure flopped at the box office. And Will called it “his most painful failure”.
At the peak of his career in the 2000s and 2010, Smith earned between $20 and $30 million per movie. That is a salary not many Hollywood actors can sniff at. As of September 2020, his fortune is more than $350 million. And everything started with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Alfonso Ribeiro – Carlton Banks
Alfonso had one of the most memorable scenes from the show. His Carlton dance is a classic scene. He played Carlton Banks, Smith’s preppy and conservative cousin in the show.
Similar to Will, Alfonso worked in the business before the Prince. He started working in show business at the age of 8. Six years before the show, he appeared in Silver Spoons and Pepsi commercials. In the latter, he appeared next to Michael Jackson.
Following the end of the show, he appeared in a couple of small roles in movies and television shows. And then in 2008, he started hosting GSN Live on the Game Show Network. The same year, he landed the hosting role on Catch 21.
In 2014, Ribeiro appeared in the 19th season of Dancing With the Stars. He won the show. Safe to say, after a breakthrough role in the Prince of Bel-Air, Ribeiro didn’t find success in movies. Instead, he found success as a host for popular shows.
James Avery – Uncle Phil
James Avery played the patriarch of the family. He still is one of the most beloved characters of the show. Uncle Phil is a fan-favorite character. In the show, Phil’s patience got tested every week due to the mischief of Will Smith and Carlton.
Following the end of the show, he had a successful career as a voice actor. He voiced Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also voiced characters in the animated series Iron Man.
In December 2013, at the age of 68, he passed away following complications from heart surgery. All of the Prince’s cast members shared their goodbye and messages. Will Smith said he got some of his greatest lessons in acting and living from James Avery.
Karyn Parsons – Hilary Banks
Karyn played the oldest child of the Banks family. She played a spoiled and snobbish character with a good heart. In the show, her character got critical of Will and his poor upbringing. As the series progressed, her character developed in a more positive way. In the beginning, she didn’t win any fans.
But after the show ended, she founded Sweet Blackberry. The organization produces children’s movies about influential black figures in history. The mission statement of the organization says “our mission is to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere”.
In 2019, Parsons wrote her novel How High the Moon aimed at middle school children.
Joseph Marcell – Geoffrey Butler
Playing the Banks’ sarcastic butler, Joseph earned a fan base. He had to clean up the mess left from Will’s hijinks. But he also cleaned after the rest of the Banks family.
While the show ended more than 25 years ago, people still yell Geoffrey when they encounter Joseph. Fans around the world love him and his role in The Fresh Prince. Following the end of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Joseph had his share of screen credits. He appeared in the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
But he found his biggest success in Shakespeare’s productions. He appeared in King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. He now serves on the board of the Globe Theatre.
Tatyana Ali – Ashley Banks
In the show, Tatyana played the most down-to-earth member of the Banks family. Tween audience members related the most to her. And her struggles as a teen served as a recurring theme during the shows. One of her best scenes was when she got accused of shoplifting.
Following the end of the show, Ali pursued a recording career. She starred in indie flicks as The Clown at Midnight.
Tatyana also graduated from Harvard. She got leading roles in series Love That Girl and Second Generation Wayans.
Janet Hubert – Aunt Vivian
Janet appeared only in the first three seasons of the show. She got fired due to a pregnancy that violated her contract.
Following the Prince, she got recurring roles in TV series Reasonable Doubts, The Job, The Bernie Mack Show, and One Life to Live. She also starred in movies like Agent on Ice, California Myth, 30 Years to Life, No Letting Go, and more.
In 2014, she earned a nomination for a Behind the Voice Actors Awards for Best Ensemble in a Video Game for Grand Theft Auto V.