Now this is (still) the story all about how … Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Janet Hubert, who played the original Aunt Vivian on the beloved sitcom, explained her decades-old feud with costar Will Smith, on the Thursday, February 4, episode of The Real.
Hubert recently made headlines for her scathing comments about Jada Pinkett Smith's Oscars boycott in a viral video posted to YouTube. In it, Hubert attacked her former colleague — the star of the show and now a bonafide Hollywood A-lister — for not helping her and other Fresh Prince castmates during salary negotiations. In her video post last month, she said, "I seem to remember at option time, coming to you and saying … 'With you, maybe we can get a little raise.' [We thought] your influence would help us greatly, like they did on Friends." Instead, she said that he supposedly replied, "My deal is my deal, and y'alls deal is y'alls deal."
The bad blood resulted in Hubert leaving the show in 1993, after three seasons, and the aftermath of her departure was anything but amicable.
In a radio show interview the year of she left the show, Smith made some pointed remarks about their feud. "I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show, because I know she is going to dog me in the press," the actor said at the time. "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. She said once, 'I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.'"
On Thursday, she clarified her remarks to the ladies of The Real. "Janet Hubert was never difficult on that set. Janet Hubert was so professional, it wasn't even funny," the actress, 60, said. "I think Will simply needed to win, and I think sometimes when you get caught up in a lie and those things never happened. She never left the set. I never left the set. We got along great."
According to the actress, Smith's age (at the time, he was 25) had something to do with it. "I think he was young and he was inexperienced," she noted.
"I went back to them in 2009 I and said, 'Please, I need you to clear my name.'" She and Smith only communicated via his manager at the time, James Lassiter. "I spoke to J.L. when my dad died and my brother died, and I begged them. I said, 'I have a family. I need you to tell the world that this stuff didn't happen,'" she recalled. "And I was waiting in my heart, thinking somebody would come to me one day and help me, but they didn't. Because I had been trained as a young woman, you always have you dignity … but I realized that redemption was not gonna come unless I did it myself."
Still, Hubert told the ladies of The Real on Thursday that there was no beef between her and Pinkett Smith. "I respect Jada highly," Hubert said. "I respect her skill, I respect her as an artist, I respect her as an actress, very much."
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