Will Smith and Janet Hubert had an emotional reconciliation on the ‘Fresh Prince’ reunion

‘You’re still my Aunt Viv.’
Published November 19, 2020 9:23 a.m. EST
Last Updated November 20, 2020 11:00 p.m. EST
Who knew that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion would be a story all about how Will Smith and Janet Hubert finally made up, 27 years after their public falling out? But that was indeed one of the biggest takeaways from the November 18 reunion, which had family-drama-loving fans everywhere reaching for Kleenex harder than an episode of This Is Us.The special (available now on Crave) taped on the iconic living room set of the series, where Smith was joined by Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Alfonso Ribeiro and DJ Jazzy Jeff. The cast reflected on their experience with the series, their favourite moments, and of course the late legend that was James Avery, AKA the man who played Uncle Phil.But while the Avery of it all was definitely emotional, the most emotional moments came when Smith revealed to his former co-stars that for the first time in nearly three decades he had met up with Janet Hubert. The actor had played the original Aunt Viv for the first three seasons until she was replaced by Reid. “As a family, we have our things that we talk about and then we have our things that we don’t talk about,” Smith explained to the shocked group. “We never really, together, publicly talk about Janet. And what happened. And, for me, it felt like I couldn’t celebrate 30 years of Fresh Prince without finding a way to celebrate Janet.”The cameras then rolled to the emotional conversation between Smith and Hubert, who has been more than vocal about her dislike towards her former co-star over the years and has always refused to participate in the reunions. Thankfully, the pair finally cleared the air as Hubert shared her version of events and revealed how tough the entire experience has been for her—especially as a Black woman in Hollywood.“During that third season when I got pregnant, there was a lot of things going on in my life and Will's life as well,” Hubert said. “Home life was not good at all. I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things going on that nobody knew about. Cast had no idea what was going on.” The actor then revealed that she was in an abusive relationship with an out-of-work husband, she had a newborn, and then the show offered her a new deal that cut her salary and completely prohibited her from working elsewhere. She had to turn it down, and that was when she was replaced.“I was hurt deeply,” she continued. “When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one. Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me. My family said, 'You’ve ruined our name.' And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me,” she said to Smith. “Because you were Will. It was hard.”In a separate confessional, Smith admitted his own part in the situation, revealing that he wishes he knew then, at 21-years-old, what he knows now. “During that time of her pregnancy, I wasn’t sensitive, I wasn’t perceptive, and now that I’ve had three kids I’ve learned some things that I did not know at the time and I would do things very differently,” he said. “But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.” To Hubert, Smith explained that he felt like everything was a threat to him, and that he was driven by fear. “I have children. I’ve been divorced and I have a second marriage, and I can see now the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was just for you to show up every day,” he said.“But you took all of that away from me—with your words. Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything. And I understand you were able to move forward, but you know those words, calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood, is the kiss of death,” she said. “And it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business. But I felt that it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.”With that the pair apologized to each other, and Smith looked at Hubert and declared, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.” Cue the waterworks everywhere. But the pair wasn’t done there. After the clip played Smith asked the rest of the cast for permission to invite Hubert on set, where she and Reid met for the very first time.
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“Seeing Daphne and Janet, my two moms, the two Aunt Vivs, come together… seeing them meet for the first time and embrace was the most incredible thing,” Parsons, who played Hilary, said.After leaving Fresh Prince, Hubert’s career definitely suffered. She managed to land a bunch of guest-starring roles on a variety of TV shows like NYPD Blue, The Jamie Foxx Show and Gilmore Girls, but it wasn’t until 2005 that she landed a steady gig as Lisa Williamson on One Life to Live. Then, in 2018, she moved over to General Hospital to star as Yvonne Godfrey, a gig that she’s been playing ever since.“I don’t want to be that guy. I go out into the world and talk about understanding and human relationships and then have somebody that I haven’t spoken to in 27 years,” Smith said. “I’m so happy that we were able to make that reconciliation, and I hope other people can take something from it.”Feeling nostalgic? Re-watch the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air now from start to finish on Crave.[video_embed id='2035399']Before you go: You can now rent part of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' mansion on Airbnb[/video_embed]