This is the first time Will Smith and Janet Hubert have met up in 27 years.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Special featured many notable moments, from Will Smith auditioning for the show at producer Quincy Jones birthday party to the group — Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana Ali, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and DJ Jazzy Jeff were all a part of the reunion — reminiscing on the late James Avery, and Smith’s highly-memorable episode with him when he breaks down in Avery’s arms over being let down by his absentee dad.
But the main moment from the reunion came toward the end, when Smith revealed to the rest of the cast that he met up with Janet Hubert for the first time in 27 years. Hubert portrayed Aunt Viv in the first three seasons of the series before Daphne Maxwell Reid took over.
“As a family, we have our things that we talk about and then we have our things that we don’t talk about,” he told the rest of the cast. “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.”
From there, the reunion transitioned to a sit down conversation between Smith and Hubert, where the latter was given the opportunity to share her side of the story, and the personal challenges she was facing while still on the show.
During the series’ third season, Hubert not only was pregnant but was also in an abusive marriage, which the cast didn’t know about.
“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,” Smith admitted. “But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”
Hubert also explained that she wasn’t fired from the show, opting out of a “really bad deal” that she was offered that would’ve meant a reduced salary and not being allowed to work elsewhere while still being a part of the series.
“I was hurt deeply,” she said. “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 who to trust because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me. Because you were Will. It was hard.”
“I was so driven by fear,” Smith said in response, saying that, as a 21-year-old, he felt like “everything was a threat” to him. “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.”
“But you took all of that away from me — with your words. Words can kill,” Hubert replied. ‘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. 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.”
The conversation ended with the pair apologizing and embracing, with Smith telling Hubert, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.”
Hubert also joined the cast on set for the reunion, too.