Daphne Maxwell Reid, who played the second ‘Aunt Viv’, ’embraced’ Janet Hubert, who played the role first, during the epic reunion taping.
Daphne Maxwell Reid, 72, who was the second actress to portray the role of Vivian Banks aka “Aunt Viv” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1993-1996, recently met Janet Hubert, 64, who was the first actress to play the role, at the HBO Max reunion for the show, and couldn’t help but thank her for leaving when she did. The talented star admitted that she embraced the original Vivian, who was on the show from 1990-1993, during a photo op for the epic special and used the opportunity to express her gratitude at the same time even though she knew it could have been awkward.
“Everybody hugged and finally, it was the two of us. And I just embraced her and said, ‘Welcome home’,” she EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife about their experience at the reunion taping. “We had a really lovely day, that day. The two of us took a lot of pictures together. There were a lot of hugs. I told her, it sounds mean, but I mean it sincerely. ‘Thank you for not coming back so that I could have a job.’”
Although the moment could have been taken in the wrong way, Daphne explained that Janet laughed it off just like she did. “She just laughed at me. I said, ‘I don’t mean it in a mean way and I don’t know what happened but I’m so glad I got to work on this show’,” she said.
Janet’s participation in the reunion came after she reconciled with the show’s star, Will Smith, 52, in Sept. after a lengthy 27-year feud. Although Janet’s departure from the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air led to many misconceptions about her personality, including people thinking she was “haughty” and difficult”, she admitted that the real reason she left was because she was only “offered a 10-week contract” that “prohibited” her from working anywhere else.
“People keep asking, ‘How do you feel?’” Janet EXCLUSIVELY told us about her experience in returning for the reunion, in a previous interview. “And I [say], ‘Like a person who’s been in prison for 27 years, who knew they didn’t rob the bank; who knew they didn’t kill or murder that person and everybody has accused you.’”
Janet’s appearance at the reunion was a shocking yet heartwarming one and Daphne revealed she was “happy” about the reconciliation even though the feud didn’t involve her. “I’m glad. I was really happy that they were, that Will was reconciling with her,” she said. “It had been a strange little vibe in that the other times that we have gotten together she wasn’t there. And I just, I didn’t know what had happened with that family. I didn’t say, ‘So, where’s Janet?’”
“That’s their deal. They were not talking about it, I didn’t ask about it,” she continued. “And when they asked me, ‘Would you be comfortable if Janet is there? I said, ‘Why not?’ I mean, I don’t know her. What’s uncomfortable to me?”
Daphne also talked about the exact moment Janet first walked onto the reunion set and explained that she felt like she belonged there just as much as everyone else. “We had just been on the couch, taking family pictures and she walked in,” she explained. “And I was sitting next to Will on his left-hand side, and when she got there, of course everybody rose to greet her. And I rose to get out of the way. I said, ‘Janet your seat is over here.’ I wanted her to take my place and Will said, ‘No.’
“It was comfortable for me, it was heartwarming,” Daphne added. “She started the darn thing, she should have been there and me not knowing why not. I welcomed her because she belonged at home.”
As far as whether or not Daphne felt pressure to try and fill Janet’s shoes when she took over the role of Vivian, she admitted they are not the same person and she was not trying to be who she was. She also explained that she doesn’t let some comparisons she hears bother her.
“The family dynamics changed. And I was not the same woman as she was, and there were complaints that I was not the same woman,” she shared about her experience on the show. “Okay. I can only be me, I can’t be Janet. And you can like Janet, that’s fine. You can say she was the best, that’s fine. That doesn’t do anything to harm me. That’s your opinion and that’s fine.”