THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Zoë Ettinger,Erin McDowell
Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and now.
Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and now. NBC/Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • It's been 30 years since the first episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The show aired from 1990 to 1996.

  • The cast recently participated in a reunion special, available to stream on HBO Max, to celebrate the show's anniversary.

  • Will Smith, who plays a fictionalized version of himself in the show, has gone on to star in a number of hit movies, including "Bad Boys," "Men in Black," and "I Am Legend."

  • James Avery, who played the patriarch of the Banks' household, Philip Banks, passed away in 2013.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" was hugely popular in its time, and ran for 148 episodes between 1990 and 1996. The show starred Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself and followed his hijinks in his aunt and uncle's house in Bel-Air, California. 

Since the show, a number of the cast members have gone on to star in other films and TV shows, and some have shifted to work outside the entertainment industry. This week, the cast got together for a reunion special on HBO Max to celebrate the show's 30th anniversary.

Sadly, James Avery, who played one of the show's most beloved characters, Uncle Phil, passed away in 2013 so was not included in the reunion. 

Here's what the cast of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is up to now.

Will Smith played a teenager who gets sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air, California, after getting in a fight in his hometown.

Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." NBC

Smith played a fictionalized version of himself in the show. He was sent to his aunt and uncle's fancy home in a ritzy California suburb after his mother feared for his safety in West Philadelphia. While, at first, Will mainly wanted to antagonize his uncle and cousin Carlton, he quickly became a beloved part of the family.

Smith has since starred in a number of hit movies, including "I Am Legend." He married Jada Pinkett in 1997.

Will Smith.
Will Smith. Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Smith, 52, has three children: a son, Trey, with his ex-wife Sheree Zampino, and a son and daughter, Jaden and Willow, with his current wife (or life partner, as they'd say), Jada Pinkett Smith.

After "The Fresh Prince," Smith starred in "Bad Boys," "Men in Black," "The Pursuit of Happyness," "Aladdin," and a number of other films. He was one of the most prolific actors of the late '90s and early 2000s. In 2007, Newsweek posited that he was "Hollywood's most powerful actor." Not bad for a kid from West Philadelphia, born and raised.

Recently, he's also been dabbling in music again. He appeared on one of his son Jaden's songs, and contributed a verse to a remix of Joyner Lucas' song "Will," which paid tribute to the star.

Smith is also reportedly exploring the idea of a "Fresh Prince" reboot with a more dramatic feel after seeing a fan-made video.

Alfonso Ribeiro played Carlton Banks, Smith's preppy and conservative cousin.

Alfonso Ribiero played Carlton Banks.
Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks. NBC

Though Carlton was Will's best friend in the show, the two often got into disagreements as Carlton was rational, but naive, while Will was carefree, but street-smart. They each learned from each other over the show's six seasons.

Ribeiro won "Dancing With the Stars" in 2014, and he and his wife welcomed a daughter in 2019.

Alfonso Ribeiro.
Alfonso Ribeiro. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Ribeiro, 49, won season 19 of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," alongside partner Witney Carson. In 2019, he and his wife, Angela, had a baby girl who they named Ava Sue. She joins his three other children.

He's also made a career for himself as a game show host. He currently hosts "America's Funniest Home Videos," and over the years has also hosted both iterations of "Catch 21," "Spell-Mageddon," and "Dance 360."

Karyn Parsons played Hilary Banks, the oldest child of the Banks family, who was spoiled and snobbish, but had a good heart deep down.

Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks.
Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks. Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Hilary was critical of Will and his poor upbringing in the show, and she was depicted as ditzy and obsessed with money and shopping. However, as the series progressed, she grew as a person and in her career.

Since the show ended, Parsons has founded Sweet Blackberry, an organization that produces children's films about influential Black figures in history.

Karyn Parsons.
Karyn Parsons. Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Sweet Blackberry's mission statement says, "Our mission is to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere." 

Parsons, 54, wrote her first novel, "How High the Moon," in 2019. It's aimed at middle schoolers. The story "was inspired from her mother's real-life experience of growing up in the south," she told Essence.

In her personal life, Parsons has two children with her husband, director Alexandre Rockwell.


Tatyana Ali played Ashley Banks, the youngest Banks daughter who looks up to her cousin.

Tatyani Ali as Ashley Banks.
Tatyana Ali as Ashley Banks. NBC

Ashley was like Will's little sister, and she liked him for his relaxed attitude in comparison to the rest of her "stuck-up" family.

Ali graduated from Harvard in 2002. She has starred in a number of Hallmark films and had a role in "The Young and the Restless."

Tatyana Ali and her husband, Vaughn Rasberry, and their son, Edward.
Tatyana Ali and her husband, Vaughn Rasberry, and one of their sons, Edward. Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Ali, 41, earned degrees in African-American studies and government from Harvard. She has recently starred in Hallmark films like "Christmas Everlasting," "Jingle Belle," and "Christmas Hotel."

She met her husband, Dr. Vaughn Rasberry, on eHarmony in 2015. They got married in 2016 and have two sons.

Joseph Marcell played Geoffrey, the Banks' sarcastic butler.

Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey, Will Smith as William 'Will' Smith
Marcell and Smith as Geoffrey and Will. Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Geoffrey had to clean up the mess left from (mainly) Will's hijinks, though sometimes the rest of the Banks family would get involved.

Although he got frustrated with the privileged lives of the Banks and Will's constant ribbing, he was practically family.

After the show, Marcell moved back his native London. He went on to have a career in theater and serves on the board of the Globe Theatre.

Joseph Marcell.
Joseph Marcell. Tristar Media/Getty Images

Marcell, 72, starred in "King Lear" as King Lear at the Globe Theatre in 2014, and also starred in "Much Ado About Nothing" there in 2012.

Janet Hubert starred as Will's Aunt Vivian (or Viv), until she left the show after its third season.

Janet Hubert as Aunt Vivian.
Janet Hubert as Aunt Vivian. Mike Ansell/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Hubert was reportedly fired from the show due to a pregnancy that violated her contract. She also had a long-running feud with Smith and Ribeiro. She told omg! Insider in 2013 that Smith did "some heinous, horrible things to me — they were like bad kids, Will and Alfonso, especially Alfonso. He said that I was crazy and nobody wanted to go to lunch with me."

Hubert went on to have a recurring role in "General Hospital." In 2016, she called out Jada Pinkett Smith's Oscars boycott.

Janet Hubert.
Janet Hubert. Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

In 2016, Pinkett Smith called for an Oscars boycott after no Black actors were nominated in any of the four acting categories for the second year in a row.

Hubert, 64, responded in a video that she posted online and said, "I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you're talking about boycotting just because you didn't get a nomination, just because you didn't win?"

Besides feuding with the stars of "Fresh Prince," the actress has appeared in various sitcoms and soap operas through the years, including "The Bernie Mac Show," "Friends," "One Life to Live," and currently on "General Hospital."

After 27 years of not speaking, Hubert addressed the feud with Will Smith at the reunion special. Hubert said she felt as though she was portrayed as "difficult," which affected her career, and both actors ended up apologizing. 

Daphne Maxwell Reid took over the role of Aunt Vivian starting in the show's fourth season and until its final season.

Daphne Maxwell Reid as Aunt Vivian.
Daphne Maxwell Reid as Aunt Vivian. YouTube

Reid took over the role after Nicky, who was the child of Vivian and Philip, was born at the end of season three.

Before her time on the show, she was best known for her role on "Hill Street Blues."

Reid is now a photographer and had a role in "Harriet." She is married to actor Tim Reid.

Daphne Maxwell Reid.
Daphne Maxwell Reid. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Reid, 72, published a photography book called "Doors" in 2012. She also starred in "Harriet," the biopic about Harriet Tubman, as Miz Lucy.

"I never expected this career. I could not have known to wish for this career," Reid said during the "Fresh Prince" reunion special. "This is a career built on opportunity, preparation, and being in the right place at the right time. And I know that it has more to do with that than it has to do with me pushing to be in this position."

Ross Bagley starred as Nicky Banks, the adorable son of Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian.

Ross Bagley as Nicky Banks.
Ross Bagley as Nicky Banks. Jan Sonnenmair/NBCU Photo Bank

Bagley joined the show in 1994 and stayed on until the final season. Before Bagley, Nicky was played by various different child actors.

Will frequently referred to Nicky as "little man" on the show, and the two had a close bond.

Bagley now works as a realtor in Los Angeles and starred alongside Smith in "Independence Day" in 1996.

Ross Bagley.
Ross Bagley. Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

Bagley, 31, shares real estate tips on his Facebook page. He also DJs under the name DJ Ro$$y B.

Jeffrey A. Townes (aka DJ Jazzy Jeff), played Jazz, Will's friend who was always making trouble in the Banks' home.

Jeffrey A. Townes as Jazz, left.
Jeffrey A. Townes as Jazz, left. Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Townes and Smith performed as DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince prior to the show, which formed the basis of Smith's character on the show.

Jazz's character was introduced on the show as Ashley's drum instructor, but he later became Will's best friend in Bel-Air. One of the most iconic parts of "Fresh Prince" is, of course, Uncle Phil physically throwing Jazz out of the house.

Townes still performs as DJ Jazzy Jeff and recently hosted a virtual block party celebrating the 30th anniversary of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

DJ Jazzy Jeff.
DJ Jazzy Jeff. Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, 55, hosted a "Break the Monotony Block Party" on Instagram in May 2020. The two still collaborate semi-regularly. In 2017, the duo performed at Europe: MTV Summerblast Music Festival and Livewire Festival.

In July 2020, both commemorated the 29th anniversary of their album "Homebase," which contains the Grammy-winning song "Summertime."

DJ Jazzy Jeff also recalled when Smith first approached him with the idea of doing the reunion.

"I think through the lockdown, we didn't know what we were allowed to do or what was going to happen. But it was absolutely amazing the amount of safety precautions that they took to get everybody together," he told the Associated Press.

Nia Long played Lisa Wilkes, Will's girlfriend and eventual fiancée who first appears in the fifth season of the show.

Nia Long as Lisa Wilkes.
Nia Long as Lisa Wilkes. Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Lisa was the one who changed Will's womanizing ways. The couple got engaged and nearly got married twice, but mishaps along the way led to them eventually breaking up. However, their parents get married eventually, making them step-siblings.

Long went on to star in TV series like "Third Watch," "Empire," and "Dear White People."

Nia Long.
Nia Long. Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Long, 50, won the NAACP award for Actress in a Drama Series twice for her role in "Third Watch." She also won the NAACP award for Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in "The Best Man."

Most recently, she starred in the 2020 Netflix thriller "Fatal Affair" alongside fellow '90s icon Omar Epps.

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