Will Smith is sharing the epic moment of his two "Aunt Vivians" from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air finally meeting. In an epic climactic moment from the Fresh Prince Reunion Special event on HBO Max, original Aunt Viv Janet Hubert-Whitten and her replacement Daphne Maxwell Reid met for the first time ever and openly embraced one other, along with Smith. The moment transcended simple fan nostalgia (which the Fresh Prince Reunion delivered on in full), it was a healing experience for those involved with the show - and some long-awaited resolution to the deep grievance within the fan base of the show, and the larger black community.
Take a look at the first meetings of the Aunt Vivs, during The Fresh Prince Reunion Special:
View this post on Instagram
As you can see above, Will Smith had some fun turning this meeting between Janet Hubert-Whitten and Daphne Maxwell Reid into a glorious Instagram Reels post. Smith added the caption "Two queens, one throne, all love!" to the changing places video, and fans are certainly showing their love, indeed.
In the Fresh Prince Reunion Special, Janet Hubert-Whitten recalls the extremely painful experience she had being pushed out of the show - an agenda pushed forward by Smith:
"I just wanted to know one thing: Why?” Hubert says. “You guys went so far. I lost so much. How do we heal that?... You have no idea... It was insane."
What a young, 20-something Will Smith didn't know or understand at the time was that Hubert-Whitten was going through several big, traumatic life events, including an abusive marriage and pregnancy. Older, wiser, and now a father himself, Smith took it upon himself to end the long feud with Hubert by admitting his fault in a direct confessional moment:
“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 says. “But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's recasting of Aunt Viv remains one of the more notorious TV recastings Hollywood has ever done. It wasn't just the immense awkwardness of the main character being played by a different person; the difference in dark/light skin tones between Hubert and Reid became a heated cultural debate within the Black community and Hollywood actor circles. Many black women saw the lighter-skinned Reid as a commentary on their worth - or lack thereof. As Hubert says in the special: "...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."
The exchange went further, with Hubert really hammering home for Smith how the fallout of her marriage, The Fresh Prince, and her new baby all hit at once, effectively destroying her life: "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.'"0comments
Still, the two actors manage to push through to breakthrough, apologizing for the harsh jabs thrown across tabloids. In the end, a teary-eyed Will Smith proclaims, "You're still my Aunt Viv."
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Special is now on HBO Max. Will Smith is also working on a Peacock reboot of the series, based on a fan-made trailer that went viral.