Janet Hubert may have left her role as Aunt Viv on the 90s hit comedy Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 25 years ago, but she’s still got stories to tell.
Never one to censor herself, Hubert has been open about her rift with Fresh Prince star, Will Smith, and has seemingly remained on the outs with her cast mates. Still, Hubert enjoys recounting some of the happier moments from her days in a town called Bel-Air.
In the episode, Hubert’s character, Vivian Banks, is worried that she’s lost her identity and attempts to reconnect with her life before motherhood. After enrolling in dance classes, Aunt Viv is quickly confronted by the reality that things are much harder as an older woman. Still, she forges ahead, and when a couple of young, snarky girls attempt to underestimate her based on her age, Aunt Viv turns in the performance of her life.
Although her confidence is palpable on screen, Hubert said she was worried when she saw the pale pink, body-hugging leotard her character was supposed to wear in the scene.
“When I went to wardrobe, and I’m like, ‘You want me to wear this?’” she recalled. But thankfully, Hubert was in great shape. “I was really skinny. I was a size two, or zero, or something like that back then.”
At the time, Hubert — a trained dancer — hadn’t danced in a while, but when producer Winifred Hervey Stallworth let her know her character had a dance episode coming up and asked if she could still move, Hubert said she could, though she had a little difficulty getting into the groove.
But the results were amazing, and Hubert’s fabulous moves still have an effect on people, nearly three decades later.
“When people say to me, ‘To see a Black woman your age who was playing a mom do that role and dance like that’ — they were shocked,” she said.
Hubert also said people loved her character because she was a powerful woman.
“Vivian was so fierce. She was not just a school teacher, she was a professional woman, she looked good, she was smart. She also had cohungas (sic). And I loved that they allowed me to bring parts of Janet into who Vivian was.”
Head over to The Root to check out Janet Hubert’s entire interview.