Whether you watched the episodes when they originally aired or you have seen the reruns, you probably are well aware that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was THE show of the ’90s. Of course there were plenty of other popular sitcoms at the time, such as Seinfeld, Friends, Full House, Saved by the Bell (do we really need to go on?) But The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air stuck out among the rest due to its incredible cast and unique storyline.
What was special about the show was how they took a rapper, Will Smith, and made him into an actor and the star of his own show. They took someone who had no acting experience whatsoever, which was a pretty big risk for the network. Luckily, Will exceeded all expectations and the rest is history. Of course, it isn’t just Will who carried the show. It would never have gained the popularity that it did without the help of Uncle Phil, Aunt Viv, Hilary, Carlton, little Nicky, Geoffrey as well as all the minor characters and guest appearances. The chemistry and comedic timing between the cast was something that could never have been taught, and made the show into something really unique.
After the series ran its course and the cast went their separate ways- it wasn’t so easy. At first Will, who was set to be a serious movie star, was only getting casted in comedic roles before he was finally taken seriously. And the rest of the cast either decided to leave their career behind all together or struggled with finding another big role without being associated with the character they portrayed on the show.
Over 20 years have passed since the series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a lot has changed. Time to do some catching up!
Will Smith as Will Smith – Then
Will is originally from Philadelphia, but was forced to move after he got in “one little fight.” His mother, who feared for his safety in their dangerous neighborhood, decided to make Will move in with his wealthy Aunt, Uncle and cousins in their Bel-Air mansion. Will is outgoing, laid back and at times a bit immature. He is also known as being quite the womanizer. He is the complete opposite of his cousins, who he at first sees as spoiled stuck up rich kids.
Will Smith as Will Smith – Now
Will started working in the late ’80s as a rapper. In 1990, when he landed his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, his fame increased dramatically. After the series ended, he focused mostly on landing roles in film. Not before long he was considered one of Hollywood’s most sought-after movie stars. He’s been married to his lovely wife and actress Jada Pinkett since 1997. They have two children, Jaden and Willow and Will also has a son named Trey from his first marriage with Sheree Zampino. We are looking forward for the 49-year-old’s next big role, as Genie in the upcoming Aladdin movie.
Janet Hubert as Vivian Banks – Then
Vivian is the mother of Ashley, Hilary, Carlton and Nicky, the aunt of Will and the wife of Philip. In the first three seasons she was played by the actress Janet Hubert and had a more cynical and feisty side to her than in the later seasons. She enjoyed making fun of others with sarcastic jokes. She is very close to her sisters, and when they all get together they tend to jump up and down in excitement (with Will who often joins in.)
Janet Hubert as Vivian Banks – Now
Janet was fired from the show after only three seasons due to her diva-like attitude and jealousy of newbie Will Smith. Many of the cast members revealed later on that she would often freak out and yell at them, and was always difficult on set. After getting fired from the highly successful show, the actress held a grudge. Although she was still able to land some roles here and there, her career was never the same. The 61-year-old is still working, and is currently playing Diane on the soap opera If Loving You Is Wrong.
Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey Butler – Then
Geoffrey is the cynical, sarcastic and British butler of the Banks family. Geoffrey was a graduate of Oxford University with a long history of working for British aristocrats. He was an Olympic runner before he was forced to flee his country after cheating on a race and getting slapped by Queen Elizabeth II. Once arriving in the US, Geoffrey worked for celebrities including Chuck Norris, before landing his job with the Banks. Despite Geoffrey’s frequent insults to Will and the children, he does show at times that he cares deeply for them all.
Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey Butler – Now
Although Joseph worked in a few shows before being the Banks’ butler, getting casted in The Fresh Prince ultimately made his career. After the series ended he continued to work, and landed a recurring role as Hudson in The Bold and the Beautiful. At 69-years-old, the actor is still working here and there and recently appeared in a Canadian film titled Hero. In 1995, he married Joyce Marcell and they have a daughter and son together.
Nia Long as Lisa Wilkes – Then
Lisa first appeared in the 5th season as Will’s girlfriend who tries to tame him from his womanizing ways. The two end up falling in love and later on are engaged. They try to get married on two different occasions, but ultimately Will backs out after realizing that he doesn’t know much about her, including her real first name (which is actually Beulah.) After they cut their second wedding short, Lisa’s father and Will’s mother use their planned ceremony and get married instead. Thus, Lisa and Will become step-siblings.
Nia Long as Lisa Wilkes – Now
Nia’s role as Lisa was one of her first roles in her career, and is also what she is most well-known for to this day. She did continue to appear in several movies after, such as Boiler Room and Big Momma’s House. Most recently, she has appeared as Assistant Director Shay Mosley in NCIS: Los Angeles and also in the Fox series Empire. In 2010, she married former basketball player of the San Antonio Spurs, Ime Udoko.
Vernee Watson as Viola ‘Vy’ Smith – Then
Viola or “Vy” is Will’s loving mother. After her husband and father to Will, Lou Smith, abandoned them when Will was only 5-years-old, she had to raise her son by herself. They lived in a dangerous neighborhood in Philadelphia, where she was always worried about her son getting into trouble. Vy chose to send Will to live with her wealthy sister Vivian and her family in Bel-Air. She eventually gets married to Lisa’s father Fred Wilkes.
Vernee Watson as Viola ‘Vy’ Smith – Now
Vernee has had quite the impressive acting career, and was popular for her roles in Welcome Back, Kotter and Carter Country before getting casted as Will’s mother. Now 63-years-old, the actress is still appearing as recurring roles on several TV shows. Since 2007, she has been playing the nurse Althea on The Big Bang Theory, and is also currently playing Stella in the long-running soap opera General Hospital.
Daphne Reid as Vivian Banks – Then
After Janet Hubert’s dramatic and surprising dismissal from the show, Daphne Reid came in to take her place. She continued playing Aunt Viv from the fourth season all the way up to the final sixth season. Not only did the actress change, but Viv’s personality also seemed to change a bit in the fourth season. Although she still was considered feisty at times, she had much less of an attitude than the previous seasons.
Daphne Reid as Vivian Banks – Now
When Daphne was hired to take Janet’s place, she was already a well-established actress in the world of television. She had appeared on several series including Simon & Simon and Frank’s Place. After playing Aunt Viv, she continued to work here and there but mostly in smaller roles. The 69-year-old’s most recent role was in 2016 in a comedy movie called By the Grace of Bob. Since 1982, she has been married Simon & Simon costar Tim Reid- who you may remember as Tamera’s father in Sister, Sister.
DJ Jazzy Jeff as Jazz – Then
Jazz is Will’s best friend and musical partner who was often (physically) thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil and other members of the family. Throughout the series Jazz has a massive crush on Hilary, although she doesn’t feel the same way about him whatsoever. Jazz is known for his colorful clothing choices and his sunglasses (which he only took off once when he was on a set-up date with Hilary.)
DJ Jazzy Jeff as Jazz – Now
DJ Jazzy Jeff was one half of the rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince with Will Smith. The pair won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for their hit song “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Later, they won another Grammy for their 1991 song “Summertime.” Jazz and Will took their off-screen musical chemistry on-screen and their popularity only increased even more. This year the duo announced that they are back to making music together 20 years later! In August 2017, they debuted their new song “Get Lit” at Blackpool Livewire Festival.
James Avery as Philip Banks – Then
Philip Banks aka Uncle Phil is the short-tempered Uncle of Will and father of Hilary, Carlton and Nicky. He is known for getting easily annoyed by all of the children in the house, and Vivian is the only one who knows how to calm him down when he loses his cool. Although Philip is very strict, he is a good father and Uncle and deep down he cares very much for his family. He was a lawyer before becoming a judge, and has made a good amount of money from his careers (although he is still considered very cheap.)
James Avery as Philip Banks – Now
James was a successful actor and voice actor before landing his role on The Fresh Prince. However, after he became Uncle Phil, that is what he continued to be remembered for. Despite constantly being labeled as Uncle Phil, he continued to land several roles in TV shows. Sadly, the beloved actor passed away on December 31, 2013 at the age of 68 due to complications from an open heart surgery. After his death, the whole cast got together to grieve over the loss of the man they loved like family.
Naomi Campbell as Helen – Then
You may have forgotten, but supermodel Naomi Campbell made a guest appearance in the first season of The Fresh Prince. She played Ashley’s friend’s nanny who Will set Geoffrey on a blind date with. After Will sees her and realizes that he wants her for himself, Geoffrey ends up giving Helen’s number to Will so that he can ask her out instead.
Naomi Campbell as Helen – Now
Naomi was one of the most recognizable model’s of the late ’80s and early ’90s. After becoming famous, she decided to venture into the world of film and television. She also appeared as a judge on the reality TV model competition The Face. The still stunning 47-year-old is still working as a model and actress. She recently played Camilla Marks in Empire, and is currently starring as Rose Crane in the new Lee Daniels series Star.
Tyra Banks as Jackie Ames – Then
Jackie first made her appearance in the fourth season. She is Will’s former friend/ex-girlfriend who he grew up with in West Philadelphia. After she lands a basketball scholarship at University of Los Angeles, she moves out to Bel-Air and reconnects with Will. While attending school in LA, she takes a job as the manager of the campus convenience store The Peacock Stop, and hires Will as one of her employees.
Tyra Banks as Jackie Ames – Now
Jackie was played by the one and only Tyra Banks. At the time, she was one of the top fashion models in the industry. She was also the first African American woman to appear on the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and to appear in Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalogue. Years later she went on to produce America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show. Tyra is now 43-years-old and just recently called it off with her boyfriend of 5 years, Erik Asla. The couple share a 1-year-old son named York Banks.
Victoria Rowell as Mimi Mumford – Then
Mimi appeared in the first season as a woman Will is fascinated by and tries to impress. Knowing he needs to impress her father before he can date her, he gets help by Uncle Phil, Carlton and Geoffrey on how to be a gentlemen. Will ends up impressing Mimi’s father by pretending to be a preppy guy named Kipp Smithers. Unfortunately the plan backfires when he finds out that Mimi prefers bad boys. Will gets exhausted going back and forth between bad boy Will and preppy Kipp, and he eventually gives up on the relationship.
Victoria Rowell as Mimi Mumford – Now
Victoria’s role as Mimi was one of her first ever acting gigs. She later went on to become a soap star with her longtime role as Drucilla Barber Winters in the The Young and the Restless. The 58-year-old, sued Sony Entertainment in 2015, after getting fired from her award-winning role of 14 years on the soap. She claimed that she suffered from harassment and racial discrimination for years, and that her white costars were given far more opportunities than her. The lawsuit was dropped this year, after both sides agreed on a hefty settlement.
Ross Bagley as Nicky Banks – Then
Nicky is Will’s adorable little cousin and the youngest child of Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv. He was born in the third season of the show and was played by Gregory Wheeler as a baby. In the fifth season Nicky suddenly grows into a pre-schooler in the last two seasons, and that is when Ross Bagley took over as the young actor. Nicky is often the comic relief or emotional punch to the series’ storyline, and looks up to his big cousin Will.
Ross Bagley as Nicky Banks – Now
Believe it or not, little Nicky is actually 28-years-old now. In the mid ’90s he was one of the most popular child actors, and became most well-known for his role as Will’s cousin. He also played Buckwheat in the 1994 film The Little Rascals. A couple years later he went on to star alongside Will once more in the popular alien-invasion film Independence Day. Like most child actors, Ross’ career peaked at a young age. Now, he is focusing on his new passion, working as an LA real estate agent.
Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks – Then
One thing is certain, The Fresh Prince would never have been the same without Will’s cousin Carlton. Although Carlton is highly intelligent, he has the tendency to annoy everyone around him with his arrogance. He is an uptight conservative who often wears collared shirts with a sweater tied around his neck. He quickly became a fan favorite, and is still remembered to this day for his famous dance to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.”
Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks – Now
Alfonso was known for his appearance on the series Silver Spoons before landing his role of a lifetime as Carlton. After The Fresh Prince came to an end, he went on to work as a voice actor for the animated series Spider-Man and Extreme Ghostbusters. He later landed a job playing Dr. Maxwell Stanton on the series In the House. In 2014, Alfonso returned to television as a competitor on Dancing with the Stars where he revived the infamous Carlton dance. Alfonso has been married two times, and is currently married to blonde bombshell and professional writer Angela Unkrich. He is also the father of four children.
Jennifer Lewis as Aunt Helen – Then
Let’s be honest, there are always going to be members of your family that you don’t particularly get on with – but we don’t think anyone could hate Aunt Helen. Yep, this lady was so cool! Helen Smith is Will’s aunt and Phillip’s sister-in-law. She was never one to tell off the kids or act like a real parent. Instead, she constantly jokes around with Phillip and makes fun of him, while letting her nephew get away with anything. Can we have an aunt like Helen, please?
Jennifer Lewis – Now
Although Jennifer Lewis is still recognized for her role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she is one talented lady with hundreds of roles to her name. In fact, she started her career as a singer, and worked as a backup singer for Bette Midler (errrr, how cool is that?!) She later went on to appear on Broadway before scoring roles in the likes of Sister Act, The Wedding Ringer, What’s Love Got to Do With It and The Princess and the Frog. Recently, she has lent her voice to Cars 3.
Dave Florek as Coach Smiley – Then
If you haven’t seen The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (why not? What are you doing? WATCH IT NOW!) you might think that Coach Smiley sounds like a pretty friendly guy. Of course, nothing is as it seems in Bel-Air because Coach Smiley was anything BUT smiley. Instead, he was ridiculously strict, with a love for punishment. This basketball coach also doubled up as the history teacher and taught both Will and Carlton. Although it’s fair to say that he liked Will a lot more than he liked Carlton…
Dave Florek – Now
Although the Florek name is pretty famous, many movie fans recognize his brother’s name more than most. Sure, Dann Florek may be a legend in the world of Law & Order and Under the Dome, but did Dann star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? We think not. The lesser-known (but cooler) brother has worked on numerous film sets over the course of his career, including Ghostbusters II, Hidalgo, and Priest. However, he’ll always be Coach Smiley in our eyes.
Lela Rochon as Cindy Norris – Then
One of the things we love about Will is that he tries to avoid becoming as spoiled as the other Banks kids (because who wants nice things and lots of money, ey?) In season 2, Will realized that he didn’t have enough money to take his date, Cindy Norris, to the dance – even though his uncle had offered to pay for him. In the end, it all works out, and Cindy gets to go to the dance with everyone’s favorite bachelor. Lucky lady.
Lela Rochon – Now
When Lela Rochon appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she was relatively new to the world of Hollywood and had struggled to land herself a major role. Luckily, Cindy Norris was a huge role for the young actress, and she later landed her breakthrough role in the 1995 movie, Waiting to Exhale. Since then, she has starred in the likes of Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Knock Off and The Chamber. Her most recent acting role came in 2015 when she appeared in Reversion, but we haven’t heard from her since! Come back, please?
Charlayne Woodard as Janice – Then
Yep, it’s another member of the Smith family! Janice Smith is the younger sister of Helen, Vy, and Vivian, and it’s fair to say that she’s a bit of a live-wire. In season 2, Janice turns up to the house (that we’re all jealous of) and introduces the family to her fiance, a man by the name of Frank Schaeffer. Although the family is skeptical about her new bae, they ultimately accept Frank into their family, and the two even get married in the house. Woooo, congrats.
Charlayne Woodard – Now
Charlayne Woodard’s recurring role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air proved to be a huge turning point in her acting career, and she was soon being offered roles here, there and everywhere. Since her time on the show, she has managed to bag herself major roles on shows such as Roseanne, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and ER. Woodard has also made her debut on Broadway and is widely regarded as a talented actress on stage and on screen. As if she wasn’t talented enough, she is also a professional playwright!
Malcolm Jamal-Warner as Eric – Then
Sadly, Eric only appears in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but he certainly made an impression – mostly because we were insanely jealous of him. In short, Eric was perfect (it’s true). As an intelligent law student, Eric was not only taken under Phil Banks’ wing, but he also got the chance to date, Hilary. I mean, you don’t get much better than that. Unfortunately, he soon parts way from the Banks/Smith family after he takes them to court. Awkward.
Malcolm Jamal-Warner – Now
Although he made a long-lasting impression on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, this role is just a small speck on the resume of Malcolm Jamal-Warner. Nowadays, he is known as the popular character from The Cosby Show, as well as his time on Malcolm & Eddie and Reed Between the Lines. Recently, he has appeared in Sneaky Pete and Lethal Weapon. Alongside being a famous actor, Malcolm is also a professional performance poet and bass player and often travels the country performing for adoring fans.
Queen Latifah as Dee Dee – Then
We first met Denise ‘Dee Dee’ Williams in the ‘She Ain’t Heavy’ episode. As the daughter of one of his uncle’s clients, Will is forced to go on a date with Dee Dee – and considering he luuuurves the ladies, Will is happy to oblige. However, Will is at first taken aback to discover that she is a little larger than his usual blind date. Despite this, the pair gets on like a house on fire and realize that they are very similar in terms of their personalities. Although Will doesn’t find her romantically attractive, they go on to form an awesome friendship.
Queen Latifah – Now
Let’s be honest; Queen Latifah is a Hollywood legend. As an actress, singer, songwriter, rapper, model, television host, and producer, there really isn’t anything she can’t do. Latifah first rose to fame in 1989 when she released her first musical album, and soon took over the world with her bubbly personality and striking looks. Since her time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Queen Latifah has continued to act and has appeared in major motion pictures such as Hairspray, Girls Trip, 22 Jump Street, and Bessie.
Ebony Solomon as Paula Hoover – Then
It’s fair to say that we weren’t the biggest fans of Paula Hoover because nobody messes with our Ashley Banks and gets away with it. Paula is the school bully and has Ashley at the top of her bully list. After Will and Carlton discover that their baby sister is being picked on, they decide to pay Ashley off – but their plan backfires. Eventually, their parents intervene and discover that their feud has been about boys all along. After a while, the girls hug it out and live happily ever after. Well, kinda.
Ebony Solomon – Now
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was Ebony Solomon’s first ever acting gig (not a bad starter job, ey?) and paved the way for numerous roles in the world of Hollywood. She later went on to appear in TV shows and movies such as ER, Sister, Sister, Babylon 5, One Eight Seven, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium. However, she hasn’t appeared in anything since 2005, and we’re not sure what she’s up to now. But hi Ebony, if you’re reading this!
Craig Kirkwood as Frederick – Then
There is one character in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that is truly close to our hearts – and Geoffrey Butler is one of them. When Geoffrey’s long-lost son, Eric, turns up out of the blue, we can’t help but smile at the fact that Geoffrey looks insanely happy. His emotions run wild after Eric tells his father that he wants to attend butler school, just like his father. However, everything goes topsy-turvy when Eric scams his father out of (a heck load) of money.
Craig Kirkwood – Now
Craig Kirkwood made his acting debut at an early age and landed his first professional gig in 1993. Since then, he has appeared in numerous shows and movies such as My So-Called Life, The Steve Harvey Show, Courting Alex, Mercy Point, The Burning Zone, Deepwater Black and Remember the Titans. In the mid-’00s, Craig decided to leave the world of acting behind him and study at the Loyola Law School. Nowadays, he is a practicing criminal defense attorney in California.
Vivica A. Fox as Janet – Then
We absolutely love Jazz, but we have to admit…he’s a little odd. It seems the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, as we first met his sister, Janet, in ‘It Had to Be You.’ To start with, Janet seemed like a lovely, friendly, and polite woman when she met Phil and the rest of the Banks. However, they soon realize why Jazz preferred to live away from her, as she was often controlling and bossy. So, they push Janet onto Carlton, in an attempt to straighten her ways.
Vivica A. Fox – Now
Before her time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Vivica A. Fox had already made a name for herself in the world of Hollywood. She had managed to score minor roles on the likes of Days of Our Lives and Generations before she became Janet, and continued to dominate in movies and TV shows after the show. Since then, she has appeared in movies such as Kill Bill, Ella Enchanted, and Boat Trip. Recently, she has taken on roles in Empire and even had her own show entitled Vivica’s Black Magic.
Karen Malina White as Jewel Robertson – Then
Another woman close to Jazz was Jewel (what a Jazzy name, ey?) In fact, Jewel was Jazz’s ex-wife. Throughout the show, we soon discover that Jewel had previously been an actress, but had landed herself in prison. The pair met while she was in prison, and they soon embarked on a whirlwind relationship from inside her jail cell. After she is released, the couple gets married – but Jazz soon discovers that Jewel wasn’t who she said she was. Instead, she was a con-woman and a cheat.
Karen Malina White – Now
Before she took on her role as Jewel Robertson, Karen Malina White had already been basking in the glory of her fame. The actress rose to prominence in 1989 when she starred in the popular movie, Lean On Me, as Kaneesha Carter. She later appeared on the likes of The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Malcolm & Eddie before landing her role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Most recently, Karen starred in the popular TV series, I Didn’t Do It but hasn’t appeared in anything since. We hope she comes back to our screens soon!
Don Cheadle as Ice Tray – Then
Although he may have a pretty silly name (although some people think it’s cool, geddit?) Ice Tray is one of the most real characters in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As one of Will’s friends from West Philadelphia – where he was born and raised – Ice Tray takes a trip to Bel-Air to cheer his friend up. However, Ice Tray does not only get closer to Will. He also gets pretty up close and personal with Hilary, which doesn’t go down well with Phil and Vivian. After a while, they soon discover that Ice Tray has good intentions and is a genuine, loving guy.
Don Cheadle – Now
During his time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Don Cheadle was truly starting to make a name for himself. He had starred in major TV shows and movies such as Rosewood, Devil in a Blue Dress, Boogie Nights, and Out of Sight. He later proved that he was made for the movies and continued to star in the likes of Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen and Reign Over Me. Nowadays, he is recognized as Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sherrie Austin as Lady Penelope – Then
Let’s be honest; Lady Penelope isn’t your average Lady. Although she was brought up in a high-class family with a posh British aristocrat as her father, Lady Penelope does not follow in her father’s footsteps. Instead, she tricks those around her to live a life of debauchery and vice. She loves to go to nightclubs and bars to drink and smoke the night away – instead of going to the opera or state dinners. To be honest, we don’t blame her, because we’d choose a bar over the opera any night.
Sherrie Austin – Now
This Australian actress and singer learned of fame from an early age and stepped into the spotlight at the tender age of 14 when she opened for Johnny Cash (no biggie). After a couple of years, Sherrie moved to America to truly pursue her singing and acting career. She soon became a member of Colorhaus and started to record her own music before landing small roles in TV shows. She released her last album in 2011 and has been pretty quiet ever since.
Morgan Nagler as Tina – Then
Although we absolutely love Carlton, we can’t really see ourselves ever having a crush on him – well, not like Tina, anyways. As Ashley’s friend and classmate, Tina spent a lot of time in the Banks’ household and developed her crush on Carlton after she saw him in a towel. However, Carlton doesn’t appreciate her infatuation and brushes her away. So, she decides she has a crush on Will instead, and Carlton instantly becomes jealous and aims to prove that is the better man out of the two.
Morgan Nagler – Now
You probably know the Nagler name because of Austin Nagler, the famous actor, and director who brought us the likes of Rilo Kiley: Emotional and Ernest Scared Stupid. Well, Morgan is Austin’s sister, and also a famous actress. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of her first professional acting gigs, and she soon scored herself minor roles in American Pie 2, Bird and Evolution. However, she has been pretty quiet ever since 2001, so we’re not sure what she’s up to nowadays.
Ben Vereen as Lou Smith – Then
Of course, we all know the story of Will and his move from West Philadelphia to Bel-Air, but we don’t know a huge amount about his backstory. So, we were pretty intrigued to discover that Lou Smith had come into town. But who is he? Well, Lou Smith is Will’s biological father *gasp* He only ever makes an appearance in one episode, but we learn of his excuses and his stories for leaving Will and his mother, and the fact that he is now a trucker. Unfortunately, he leaves Will once more…
Ben Vereen – Now
It’s fair to say that Ben Vereen is an extremely talented individual. Not only is he an actor, but he’s also a dancer and singer who has made a name for himself as the King of Broadway. Over the course of his career, Ben has appeared in numerous Broadway and stage productions, including Jesus Christ Superstar, A Christmas Carol, Hair, Chicago, and Wicked. He has also starred in hundreds of movies and TV shows – we couldn’t keep count! Nowadays, Ben is a public speaker and advocate for Human Rights and black history.
Lisa Fuller as Toni – Then
If you cast your memory back to season 1, you might remember a character by the name of Toni. This character is friend’s with Hilary, so you can already imagine how superficial she was (no offense, ladies). However, Toni is on another level and often described as the ‘dumb blonde’ of the show. She appeared in numerous episodes of the show, including ‘Chubba Hubba’ and ‘It Had to Be You’ but left the show soon after. Although she was pretty annoying, we were sad to see her go…
Lisa Fuller – Now
Before her time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Lisa Fuller had already made a name for herself in the world of acting – but had definitely made a name for herself for playing the stereotypical ‘dumb blonde’ and ‘blonde bombshell’ characters. Over the course of her career, she has appeared in movies such as The Monster Squad, Teen Witch, and Nightlife. Recently, she has been a little quiet on the acting front, and it seems as if she’s spending most of her time with her acting hubby, Dan Gauthier.
Tatyana Ali as Ashley Banks – Then
Ashley is the youngest daughter of Philip and Vivian. Uncle Phil did not want Ashley to end up like Hilary, so he tried to control her life and stop her from making poor decisions. Since she was a little girl, she looked up to Will and saw him as a big brother. As she grew into a teenager and started becoming more rebellious, Phil blamed Will for his constant bad influence on her. Nonetheless Will tries to be a good role model, but is often seen by Ashley as being too overprotective.
Tatyana Ali as Ashley Banks – Now
Tatyana grew up on-screen before our eyes from a little girl into a young adult. Now, the actress is 38-years-old and looking more beautiful than ever. Like most of her cast mates, she was able to land a few jobs after The Fresh Prince including a role in the movie Jawbreaker and a part on the soap The Young and the Restless. Although she isn’t as famous as she once was, she is still working. Her next role will be as Capt. Bess Davenport in the upcoming series Fly. Last year, the actress got married to Stanford professor Dr. Vaughn Rasberry.
Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks – Then
Hilary is the oldest daughter of the Banks family. She is known as being stuck up, snobby and incredibly shallow. She ends up landing her own talk show called Hilary after formerly working as a weather girl. After meeting and falling in love with news anchor Trevor Collins, he dies in a bungee jumping accident while proposing to her on live television. Hilary feels a tremendous guilt after his death, claiming that she was the one who demanded such a dramatic proposal.
Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks – Now
Playing Hilary was the highlight of Karyn’s acting career. Although she went on to work in a few various TV shows and films after the show’s finale, she was constantly seen as the snobby Hilary. She ended up leaving her acting career behind her and created the Sweet Blackberry Foundation, a non-profit that specializes in educating children in African American history. Karyn is now 51-years-old and the mother of a 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son with her film director husband Alexandre Rockwell.