When Alfonso Ribeiro — known for his role as Carlton Banks on the ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — posted a photo from the cast’s reunion back in March, fans were both delighted yet confused because there was one very important main character missing. Many of them were left asking, Why did Vivian from Fresh Prince change?
“Where’s the real Aunt Viv?” one fan asked, and other pointed out, “That’s definitely not the real Aunt Viv.” Another fan noted, “The original Auntie Viv should have been included.”
Janet Hubert — the actress known as the “real Aunt Viv” — was replaced in 1993 by actress Daphne Maxwell-Reid. But the reason she was not a part of the recent cast reunion is deeply rooted in a 20-year-long feud between her and the show’s star Will Smith. Keep scrolling below to find out what happened!
It started back in the early ’90s.
Even though Janet, 61, previously said that she only signed on a limited amount of episodes, her abrupt departure after three years with the show was more rooted in her feud with Will. “There was a bit of a [cast feud],” she told The Dish. “I was extremely professional on that set, maybe too professional…but I didn’t adhere to the star system. By not playing the game, that cost me. I think what happened, because the audience was so on my side at that time, that [Will] probably felt like he needed to go out, and he needed to tell a lot of lies.”
Will seemed to stir the pot.
The alleged lies that Janet mentioned were told during a radio interview that Will did back in 1993, the year that Janet left the show. “I can say straight up that Janet wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show, because I know she is going to dog me in the press,” the actor said at the time, according to Us Weekly. “She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.'”
Janet’s reputation led to her being replaced on the show.
But Will wasn’t the only person who claimed that Janet had a less-than-favorable attitude on set. “Long story short, and there were days when we were all on the set and she would literally go off on people and they got to a point by the time the second season came around where we’re like, ‘This is unacceptable,'” he said during a 2009 stand-up comedy show, according to E! News. “We felt like, when we were doing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that we were a family…She, at that point, ruined that, and she made it very difficult for us to work, and unfortunately, she was then fired. They brought in Daphne, who we absolutely loved, and we moved on. Oh well.”
Janet had some choice words for Alfonso and the rest of the cast.
Shortly after Alfonso posted the reunion photo, she took to Facebook to post a scathing rant against him. “I know the media h– [Alfonso] has posted his so called reunion photo. Folks keep telling me about it. He was always the a– wipe for Will,” she wrote in a now-deleted post. “There will never be a true reunion of The Fresh Prince. I have no interest in seeing any of these people on that kind of level.”