Tatyana Ali defends Will Smith in Aunt Viv ‘Fresh Prince’ feud

Tatyana Ali is back on TV starring in the new BET series Second Generation Wayans, where she plays a quirky and stylish personal assistant.

For more than 20 years Ali has starred on numerous TV shows including The Young and the Restless, Love That Girl! and her most recognizable role as Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which lasted six seasons.

Last year, reports of a feud between Will Smith and Janice Hubert, the original Aunt Vivian on the series, surfaced.

The then 55-year-old Hubert was absent from a 2011 reunion photo of the cast that Smith published on Facebook. Hubert later explained to TMZ why she wasn’t there. “There will never be a reunion … as I will never do anything with an a–hole like Will Smith,” Hubert exclaimed. “He is still an egomaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never, ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology … he doesn’t know the word.”

Shortly after Hurbert left the series, Smith spoke out about her bad attitude during an interview with an Atlanta radio station. “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,” Smith said.

During an interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, Ali recalled Hubert’s departure from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and weighed in on her feud with Will Smith.

“It’s almost like remembering a divorce or something in your family. We were really close, and we cared for each other. We spent all day together every day,” Ali said. “Does Will have ego? [shakes her head no] He’s the same person he was the day I met him until now. So I don’t know where that came from. That was not my experience at all.”

Ali also revealed that more than 15 years after starring on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she is still struggling to be recognized in the industry as Tatyana Ali, and not her character Ashley Banks.

It’s been hard… it actually has been hard,” she said. “You know coming off of a successful show and trying to find work, and casting directors only seeing that character when you walk into the door is really hard.”

Fans of Ali can catch her on Second Generation Wayans, Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on BET.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC