The Cast of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ 24 Years Later
It’s hard to believe that “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” of NBC fame is more than 24 years old, first airing in September 1990 and ending in May 1996. It revolved around a teen (the titular Will Smith) from Philly who was sent to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Bel-Air (where crazy hijinks ensued!). The show ran for 148 episodes and went successfully into syndication. It also helped launch Will Smith into major superstardom. What’s surprising is how well some of these actors have held up over the years. Check out some of your sitcom faves and see what they’re doing nearly two decades later.
Easily the biggest star to emerge from the show, Will Smith is … do we even need to tell you? “Independence Day.” “Men in Black.” “Bad Boys.” “I Am Legend.” The list goes on and on. He’s now also producing movies that star his (sigh) son, Jaden. Love him or not, he’s one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors (save a few recent flops).
Alfonso Ribeiro took his success from “Fresh Prince” and segued into a directing career. He directed episodes of the comedy series “All of Us,” “Meet the Browns” and “Are We There Yet?” He’s also had a few acting gigs here and there, as well as appearing on the reality show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!” Most recently, he can be seen on “Dancing With The Stars.”
Cutie Karyn Parsons appeared in a few projects after “Fresh Prince,” including “Melrose Place” and “The Ladies Man,” among other projects, but she’s been most busy as the founder of Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning organization whose mission is to bring little-known stories of African American achievement to kids. She currently has a Kickstarter for her latest project, “The Janet Collins Story.”
Ross Bagley went from playing Will Smith’s cousin on the series to Will’s stepson in the film “Independence Day.” He’s had a few parts since then, and in 2012 graduated from California State Northridge with a degree in Cinema & Television Arts.
DJ Jazzy Jeff was always more of a DJ than an actor, and his acting credits since “Fresh Prince” are sparse. His music, however, isn’t. In 2007, he released “The Return of the Magnificent,” which featured collaborations with old school and new school artists. And in 2013, he performed with Will Smith on the “Graham Norton Show”. That same year, he released “Vinyl Destination,” a web series documenting his hundred-plus DJ shows from all around the world.
Mandatory readers know that we’ve written about Nia Long before, and for good reason. She just keeps getting better-looking with age. You’ve seen her on “Third Watch,” “Judging Amy,” “House of Lies” and a ton of others. Per her IMDb bio, she loves to cook organic farmer’s market fresh meals adding a twist of her Trinidadian heritage. When she’s not juggling between her career and motherhood, she enjoys staying active by doing Pilates, boxing, hiking and horseback riding.
Joseph Marcell is an actor who can bounce between the soapiness of “The Bold and the Beautiful” to the BBC’s “EastEnders.” That, my friends, is what they call in acting range. He also serves on the board of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England. Dude was slumming on “Fresh Prince”!
Though his role on “The Fresh Prince” is what made him famous, James Avery had a long career after the show’s finish. You might’ve caught him on “The Closer” or “That ’70s Show” among a bunch of others. We like him even more after finding this quote: “Monetary success is not success. Career success is not success. Life, someone that loves you, giving to others, doing something that makes you feel complete and full: That is success. And it isn’t dependent on anyone else.” Sadly, he passed away in December 2013.
Apparently, Janet Louise Hubert left “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” when NBC failed to negotiate beyond offering her 10 weeks of work. Not a career-ender, she later appeared on “The Job” and “One Life to Live,” among many other guest spots. However, in 2009, she self-published an autobiography titled “Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom.” The book details life on the set of “Fresh Prince” and her assertion that Will Smith orchestrated her departure.
Daphne Maxwell Reid had a solid TV career before she was even cast on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Since then, she continued to act, albeit a bit less. Most interesting, though, is that she now sells photography through her website called, pun-intended, Fresh Prints. As she writes, “The time has come for me to share my photographic eye with you. I hope to awaken your childhood sense of wonder and curiosity with ‘Daphne Maxwell Reid’s Fresh Prints®.'”
Tatyana Ali is yet another familiar face to Mandatory fans. Not just an actor, this thespian attended Harvard. Smart and sexy. She also traveled the country as a spokesperson for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008. She stills acts, too, appearing most frequently on “The Young and the Restless.”