Janet Hubert receives standing ovation at Will Smith’s book tour event
Hubert has not held back her criticisms of the actor since exiting "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 1993.
Will Smith hosted a book reading event Tuesday night at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, where he discussed his new memoir, Will.
At one point, Smith gave a shout out to his former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Janet Hubert, 65, who was in the audience with Karyn Parsons, the actress who played Hilary on the beloved comedy series.
Hubert received a standing ovation from the crowd, prompting Smith to respond, “Stand up, Janet. Get your flowers!” According to PEOPLE, he continued by saying, “Take it in! Take that in!”
The emotional moment came a year after the Fresh Prince cast came together to tape a special for HBO Max. It marked the first time Hubert and Smith sat down to discuss their fallout following Hubert’s exit from the sitcom in 1993.
Smith gathered the cast for a 30th anniversary special on HBO Max which is currently available on the streaming platform. Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, and DJ Jazzy Jeff were eager to reminisce about their time on the show. James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil, died in 2013.
Hubert, the “original Aunt Viv,” agreed to be a part of the reunion though she has not held back her criticisms of Smith since she left the show in 1993. In the reunion special, Hubert insisted she had not been fired.
Hubert and Smith greeted each other with a hug when they saw each other on set, but she asked him a question she said had lingered on her mind for 27 years.
“I just wanted to know one thing, why? Why so far? You guys went so far, I lost so much,” she said. “How do we heal?”
Hubert explained that many people turned their backs on her following her exit from the Fresh Prince. She also claimed that her circumstances were made even more difficult because she was in an “abusive marriage” at the time.
“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,” she said. “I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust — I had been banished. They said it was you who banished me. Because you were Will, you were a kid. It was hard.”
They both admitted to having issues during a confessional ahead of their public face-to-face. Smith acknowledged that he could have been more “sensitive” to Hubert. He shared that becoming a father made him more attuned with how she may have felt back then.
Smith addressed the reunion with Herbert during the event Tuesday, telling attendees, “That is such a beautiful thing. Thank you all. You know, Janet and I — I’m assuming you all saw Janet and I a few months ago on the 30th anniversary of Fresh Prince, for the first time talked out the issues that we had had.”
“It was one of the most healing experiences of my life, and it was a big part of the place that working on this memoir got me into,” he continued. “I just wanna thank you, Janet, for being open. That’s a big part of the exploration that I wanted to do in this book.”
theGrio’s Stephanie Guerilus contributed to this report.
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