Sunday, August 24, 2008

'WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...' THE 1st 'AUNT VIVIAN' FROM 'THE FRESH PRINCE...'? ACTRESS DISHES ON WILL SMITH, HER EXIT, HER REPLACEMENT & NEW VENTURES.

Some of you may remember actress Janet Hubert as Will Smith's beautiful and feisty Aunt Vivian Banks on the the hit NBC comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And some of you may also remember her exit from the show after only three seasons due to rumored on-set disagreements which resulted in a bitter public feud with Will as well as a failure to fairly negotiate her contract with the show's producers. Just months after that debacle, Janet unsuccessfully sued Will in a slander and defamation lawsuit. It's been 15 years and since then the actress has gone on to appear on other sitcoms as well as appearing on Broadway and in films, but these days she spends her time launching her new children's merchandise line called J.G. and the B.C. Kids, which includes school bags, books and an animated series to be released on DVD and online....which she created in an effort to shape the young minds of our Black children. Janet is also working on another book called Murder of a Sitcom Mother. For those of you who never got the chance to hear (or read) Janet's side of what went down, keep reading below as she discusses how she currently feels about Will Smith, how she felt about being replaced by fellow actress Daphne Maxwell-Reid--or Miss Thing, as she calls her...and why, even with a failed marriage under her belt, she's finally at peace with herself.

JANET TO ESSENCE.COM ON REPORTS OF SHE & WILL NOT GETTING ALONG: "We got along fine. We had so much fun on that set. That's why I was so shocked. But there was something about Will at that time that I hope has changed. He always had to win. He has an unbelievable competitive spirit."

JANET IN ANOTHER RECENT INTERVIEW COMMENTING ON REPORTS OF SHE & WILL NOT GETTING ALONG & HOW SHE FELT ABOUT BEING REPLACED: "When Smith did what he did by going to major markets and telling people what a difficult bitch I was and how I wanted to the show, it didn't just affect me, it affected everything in my life. [My lawsuit] had no chance against the NBC machine Will had behind him. There was always tension between [me] and Will after I repeatedly voiced concerns about the limited portrayal of the parents on the show, but it wasn't until after [my] pregnancy that producers dramatically lessened my role on the show and reduced my pay. I was let go under the notion that the producers were eliminating my role altogether. I had no idea they were going to replace me. And Miss Thing who took over needed to go somewhere and shut up."

JANET TO ESSENCE.COM ON HOW HER EXIT AFFECTED HER CAREER & WHY SHE'S AT PEACE WITH HERSELF: "I actually wrote a book, Murder of a Sitcom Mother. I needed to set the record straight for my son. [But I'm not] going to publish the book because my soul is healed. I'm getting a chance to talk to you, to talk to the public and to let people hear my side, finally, 15 years later. It was devastating what happened to me afterwards. Unbelievable things happened. It was horrible. My husband left. (three years ago, she got married for the second time) We lost our house. I lost my health. I almost lost my mind. I was blacklisted in Hollywood. I couldn't get a job....These days, I want to be remembered as a plain, ordinary, everyday person. I don't live a glamorous life, but I live a fabulous life. I don't need gobs of money to be happy. Happiness is within and Janet Hubert is finally at peace."

AFTER THE JUMP, FIND OUT WHAT JANET THOUGHT OF HER 'AUNT VIVIAN' CHARACTER, HOW SHE CAME UP WITH THE CONCEPT FOR HER CHILDREN'S BOOK & THE THINGS SHE HAD TO DO TO PAY HER BILLS WHEN HOLLYWOOD SLAMMED ITS DOORS IN HER FACE.

JANET ON HER 'AUNT VIVIAN' CHARACTER:"They (the fans) loved what I did with her. They really loved to have this dark-skinned sister playing this upscale woman. The ideal woman in the eyes of many of our men is light and bright. Dark-skinned sisters, we have a hard time. Part of my beauty to me was my dark skin. I love my dark skin. I feel it's so much a part of my beauty."

JANET ON HER NEW CHILDREN'S BOOK AND ANIMATED SERIES & HOW SHE CAME UP WITH THE BOOK'S CONCEPT:"Our first book is called The Swiss Adventure. It's about a little Black boy named Vinnie Williams who dares to be different. He doesn't want to fit in. B.C. stands for 'bright children, bold and confident, beautiful and caring.' Vinnie solves a mathematical equation on something called a time writer. Writing can take you places. His mission is to find B.C. kids everywhere and take back their [stolen] minds. It's a very political statement. I've always been a fightin' kind of momma. I don't care how big you are, if you're wrong, you're wrong. I will fight you for the babies.....A dear friend of mind gave me a CD. It was called Rock and Roar Dinosaur, and my son loves dinosaurs. I redid two of those songs and created the character Janet Granite [a beautiful archaeologist]. I actually dressed up like this character; I didn't look as good as she does. I went to bookstores and sang the songs to these kids with my little tool belt and my little boots. You gotta do what you gotta do when Hollywood tells you you're poison and you feel like nobody wants you anymore."

The items from the J.G. and B.C. Kids merchandise line will be available in select Wal-Mart stores this fall...just in time for back to school. Or check out its official website jgandthebckids.com for more information.

5 comments:

tracy said...

I like her. Always have. Stay strong sister.

enter my head said...

i can tell she's a bytch...i'm sorry, why would will smith just call her out by lying on her? she felt competitive with him... she's a moderately attractive older black woman, will was young, hip and cool.. you tell me what beef will smith would have with her? she started it all... i'm just spectulating...

jasee said...

it was a crime to replace her...she was so much better than the light skinned chick..the show started to lack a little spunk without her..that was a big mistake in my opinion

ATM said...

I am a white boy but I have to say that her story has inspired me. She is an amazing actress and really brought her character to life and should have never been replaced. I completely agree that lowering her episodes from 25 to 13 and then blacklisting her for being mad about it. I hope that she can read my comment because I want her to know that she is a great actress, a strong person, and a great role modle. Keep strong.

Megan J. said...

I have to say that I have been wondering about what happened to her ever since they are now showing the reruns of Fresh Prince on abc family. To be truly honest, when she was replaced the role of Vivian was really dumbed down. No offense to the other actress but she became apart of the background and not have much control over anything like the previous Vivian. I think it was a interesting wave of replacing dark skinned and more outspoken moms on tv. The only other mom that I can say that was outspoken was Claire Huxtable. I believe that janet is an awesome actress despite all that happened.

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