The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” 30th anniversary reunion special premiered on HBO Max last night…and as expected, the main event was Will Smith and Aunt Viv #1, Janet Hubert.
They hadn’t talked in 27 years, but Will said he couldn’t pay tribute to the show without acknowledging her.
Janet played Aunt Viv for the first three seasons, but was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid. There’s been talk about her being fired, and she has accused Will of pushing her out. But it’s possible that neither are true.
On the special, Janet said that she’d gotten pregnant during the third season, and was in an abusive relationship. She was having a rough time, and on top of that, the show cut her salary, and offered her a “really bad deal” to continue.
She said she couldn’t accept that, and when she told the producers, they just dumped her and re-cast the role.
Will claimed he didn’t know the whole story, although it’s possible that he knew about the contract stand-off…because years ago, he said that Janet left because she wanted it to be the “Aunt Viv of Bel-Air” show.
In any event, Janet was real with Will, and wasn’t just there to make nice.
She said, “I was hurt deeply…you took all of that away from me…with your words. Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. 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. And it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.”
Still, she’s ready to bury the hatchet. She said, “I felt that it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.”
They both apologized, and hugged. Will said, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.”
Janet also agreed to reunite with the rest of the cast, which included her meeting Daphne, a.k.a. Aunt Viv #2, for the first time ever.
(You can find more highlights, here. )