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What Happened To The Cast Of Fresh Prince After It Ended?

In 1990, Will Smith ran into trouble with a couple of guys in his West Philadelphia neighborhood — and fearing for his safety and long-term well-being, his mother promptly shipped him off to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Bel Air, Los Angeles. So begins the story of the long-running hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The comedy series, loosely based on the life of Smith's producer and manager Benny Medina, found a surprising amount of depth beneath its standard fish-out-of-water premise — between all the jokes, the show tackled issues like class, race, and the importance of family.

Not only was Fresh Prince hilarious and relatable, the show also had one of the catchiest theme songs of all time — every Fresh Prince fan still remembers the lyrics, which is no surprise, given Smith's early career as a Top 40 hip-hop star. The series finale of Fresh Prince aired in 1996, but even though the show wrapped up over two decades ago, old episodes definitely hold up. And with the cast reconvening for a very special reunion episode — and news of a dramatic Fresh Prince reboot on the horizon — it's the perfect time to revisit Bel-Air and see what the cast has gotten up to since the credits rolled for the last time.

Will Smith became king of the box office

Before playing a fictionalized version of himself on Fresh Prince, Will Smith was known as the rapper half of the popular hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, who notched a series of Top 40 hits during the late '80s and early '90s that included "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Summertime." But after he kicked off his acting career on the show, he became one of the biggest names in Hollywood. After his time as the Fresh Prince was over, he did return to making music, releasing the albums Big Willie Style and Willennium. But Smith's film career really took off after Fresh Prince, and now he's primarily known for acting rather than music.

In 1997, Smith starred in sci-fi action comedy Men in Black, which lead to several sequels. He went on to appear in major blockbuster films like Independence Day and I Am Legend, and he even earned Academy Award nominations for his roles in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness. He became a huge box office draw — his highest-grossing film, the remake of Disney's Aladdin, grossed more than $1 billion internationally. He has a few major projects coming up, including Bad Boys 4 and Bright 2, the sequel to his popular Netflix film. In addition, he'll be starring in The Council and the historical thriller Emancipation.

James Avery has passed away

James Avery played Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince, a stern yet loving father figure to Will who supported him in a way that his biological father unfortunately never did. Uncle Phil was beloved by fans of the show — yes, he could lose his temper sometimes, but he was a loving man who truly wanted to see Will succeed. Who wouldn't want an uncle like Phillip Banks?

Avery continued working in TV after Fresh Prince, playing Alonzo Sparks on Sparks and guest starring on That '70s Show as Officer Kennedy. He also voiced R.L. Stine on The Nightmare Room and played Mr. Gantry in the film Raise Your Voice. But in 2013, fans of Fresh Prince were devastated when the news broke that Avery had passed away due to complications during open-heart surgery. "Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living, and being a respectable human being came through James Avery," said Smith after his co-star's death. "Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace." Watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has felt more than a little bit bittersweet ever since, and any cast reunions will definitely seem strange and a little hollow without the patriarch of the Banks family.

Alfonso Ribeiro is a TV show host

You may remember Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks, Will's studious and somewhat uptight cousin with iconic dance moves. Although he and Will were about as different as two people could be, they shared a deep bond — during one emotional episode, Will proves that he would literally take a bullet for Carlton.

Ribeiro, who broke out as a child star in the '80s as a cast member of the syndicated sitcom Silver Spoons, has definitely stayed busy with a wide variety of projects since his days on Fresh Prince. He became a father to four children, and he continued with his acting career. He lent his voice to the character of Roland Jackson on Extreme Ghostbusters and played Dr. Maxwell Stanton on In the House. He's also gotten behind the camera, directing episodes of shows like All of Us and Are We There Yet? In addition to acting and directing, he also began hosting different TV shows, including America's Funniest Home Videos and The New Catch 21. And if you're in the mood for throwback hits, he also hosts the radio show The 90s With Alfonso Ribeiro.

You may have heard Ribeiro's name in the news in 2018, when he sued Epic Games for including his famous "Carlton dance" in the game Fortnite. Eventually, he dropped the lawsuit when he found out that he would not be able to trademark the dance.

Tatyana Ali built a varied career

While playing Will's cousin Ashley on Fresh Prince, Tatyana Ali occasionally sang, and when her time on the show was over, she decided to pursue her music career. With encouragement from Smith, she released her debut album, Kiss the Sky, in 1998. A minor pop hit, the album nearly broke the Top 40 of the Billboard R&B chart, and spawned the Top 10 single "Daydreamin'." It wasn't a bad start, but it remains Ali's only studio album — after recording it, she went on to attend Harvard University, graduating with a degree in African-American Studies and Government in 2002.

Although Ali pursued different paths while recording music and studying, she did continue acting as well. She played Roxanne on the soap opera The Young and Restless and Tyana Jones on Love That Girl! Ali also produced and starred in the BET web series Buppies. You may have also spotted her playing Tina in the 2006 sports drama Glory Road. In 2016, she married Dr. Vaughn Rasberry, and the couple now has two sons. More recently, she's signed on for the film The Reason, a family drama that tells the story of a small-town pastor struggling to help his sick child.

Karyn Parsons wrote her first book

Karyn Parsons played Will's cousin Hilary Banks, who was generally portrayed as a stereotypical mean girl. She often came across as snobby, and she had a tendency to be condescending towards Will because of his working-class upbringing. But despite this, she was loyal to her family members, and deep down, she always had a sense of integrity.

In the years following her time on Fresh Prince, Parsons produced the series Lush Life, in which she also played the character Margot Hines. She later went on to play Toni on The Job. Parsons took a hiatus from acting from 2002 through 2018, and during that time, she wrote and produced two episodes of the animated series Sweet Blackberry Presents in an effort to share educational stories based on Black history. She also married director Alexandre Rockwell and became a mother of two.

In 2019, Parsons published her first book, the novel How High the Moon. The story takes place in the American South during the Jim Crow era, and the events are loosely based on her mother's childhood experiences. "The stories of my mother's childhood were so uniquely different from my own that I often found myself wondering what it would be like to grow up in the Jim Crow south," Parsons told Essence. "Delving deeper into a time and place that I'd heard so much about but never experienced was very exciting to me."

Joseph Marcell worked in theater

Will definitely did not have a butler back in West Philadelphia, but in Bel-Air, the Banks had Geoffrey Butler, played by Joseph Marcell. While he could be cynical toward the family and occasionally make jabs at their laziness, he did genuinely care for the Banks. 

Once his time as Geoffrey Butler was over, Marcell's next prominent role was the character Hudson on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Today, he is primarily known for his work in theater. He began performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and he also serves on the board at The Globe playhouse in London. He has performed in numerous Shakespeare plays on international stages, including Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, and King Lear. More recently, he got back in front of the camera for a small role in the Netflix series Ratched, after which he signed on for a role in the horror film The Exorcism of God.

Janet Hubert was nominated for a Daytime Emmy

Longtime fans of Fresh Prince will remember that for the first three seasons, Aunt Vivian was played by Janet Hubert. Hubert eventually left the show because she struggled to get along with Smith — she even shot down fans' hopes for a reunion of the original cast because she said that she would never work with Smith again. But in 2020, the two finally did reconcile with an emotional conversation.

What did Hubert work on after leaving Fresh Prince? After playing Adina on The Job, she landed a recurring role as Lisa Williamson on One Life to Live, and then went on to play Diane on If Loving You is Wrong. In 2019, Hubert played Mignon Pappion on the drama series King Ester, which tells the story of a black transgender woman struggling to decide whether she should evacuate New Orleans in the week before Hurricane Katrina. She earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for her performance. In the years following Fresh Prince, Hubert also married her husband Larry Kraft, who has supported her throughout her struggles with osteoporosis.

Daphne Reid is working on two new films

After Janet Hubert left Fresh Prince, a new actor stepped in to replace her as Aunt Viv. Daphne Reid had big shoes to fill as Will's no-nonsense aunt, who always tries to steer Will in the right direction. While fans naturally wondered why Hubert had left the show, Reid proved to be a solid replacement in the role. 

After shooting the final season of Fresh Prince, Reid moved on to playing Eartha on the series Linc's. Later, she played Frances Hunter on the comedy series Eve. After leaving Eve, she began taking on acting roles less frequently, but her more recent acting credits include the role of Zillah on the drama series Jacqueline and Jilly. Reid has also landed roles in a pair of recent films: First, she'll be appearing in The Business of Christmas, which is about a family reuniting to save their business and rediscovering their love for each other. She'll also be playing Mrs. Goodman in the romantic comedy M.D. is for Mr. Doula.

Ross Bagley works in real estate

In the third season of Fresh Prince, the Banks family welcomed their newest arrival, Nicky, who was played by Ross Bagley. As the youngest member of the family, Nicky was always around to provide a little comic relief. 

When Fresh Prince was over, Bagley reunited with Smith on the science fiction film Independence Day. In this epic disaster movie, Bagley played Smith's stepson, and their characters were forced to fight for their lives as aliens staged an all-out war against the human race. Although Bagley's post-Fresh Prince career got off to a strong start, he only took on a couple of guest roles in TV shows after appearing in Independence Day. His last role was in the horror film Dead Ringer in 2015, and he does not seem to be working on any new projects. But as it turns out, acting isn't Bagley's only talent — since tabling his Hollywood career, he's gone on to work in real estate. Perhaps one day he might return to acting, but right now, he's focusing on his new career path.

DJ Jazzy Jeff continued his music career

Before joining the cast of Fresh Prince, DJ Jazzy Jeff was already known for making hit records with Smith. On the show, his character Jazz is introduced as Ashley's drum instructor, who strikes up a close friendship with Smith. Jazz had a tendency to get himself kicked out of the house by Uncle Phil, who was rarely in the mood for his antics.

After Jeff left Fresh Prince, he chose not to pursue any further acting roles. Instead, he went back to doing what he loved most: making music. He has continued to record new music and perform around the world, and although he doesn't often work with Smith these days, the two are still friends. As a father of two, he's also made an effort to spend more time focusing on his family: After spending years packing his schedule with acting and music commitments, he rebuilt his relationship with his son Cory Townes. He also married Lynette Jackson at a ceremony in Jamaica — and naturally, Smith was in attendance.

Nia Long worked in TV and film

Nia Long played Lisa Wilkes, Will's girlfriend who seemed like the one woman who could get him to settle down. They thought about getting married, and even walked down the aisle together twice. But on both occasions, they realized that they weren't quite ready, and eventually, they went their separate ways.

Long was only in a few episodes of Fresh Prince, but since leaving the show, she's had quite a successful career in television and film. She voiced Roberta Tubbs on The Cleveland Show, and she's also had recurring roles on Empire and NCIS: Los Angeles. She has also appeared in films like Best Man, Big Momma's House, and Are We There Yet? More recently, she played Lavette on the comedy series #BlackAF, and she also starred as Ellie Warren in the Netflix thriller Fatal Affair.

After her time on Fresh Prince was over, Long became a mom of two, and she got engaged to her fiance Ime Udoka in 2015. But she says that she's in no rush to get married — she told Essence that she's not sure they need to say "I do" to prove their commitment to each other.

Vernee Watson began acting on soap operas

Vernee Watson portrayed Will's mother Viola "Vy" Smith, who raised Will by herself in Philadelphia. As he got older, she realized that he would be better off with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air. She wanted the best for Will, but she did worry that he would get too spoiled living in Bel-Air, which occasionally caused her to clash with Aunt Viv. She later went on to marry Fred Wilkes, the father of Will's ex-fiancee.

After shooting her final episode of Fresh Prince, Watson had a recurring role as Patrice on Sister, Sister. In addition to guest-starring on TV shows, she appeared in films like The Kid and Christmas With the Kranks.

Over the past two decades, Watson has also acted on several soap operas. She played Birdie on The Young and the Restless, and a few years later, she landed a role as Dr. Ella Kraft on Days of Our Lives. Starting in 2013, Watson also played the recurring role of Stella Henry on General Hospital. In addition to all those roles, she's also branched out with a different kind of project — she did voiceover work for the video game Mafia: Definitive Edition.