The long debate over the treatment of original Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is something that has followed both actresses throughout their careers. For OG Aunt Viv Janet Hubert, it is something that has held her back from opportunities. For the second Aunt Viv Daphne Reid, it helped kickstart a very successful period in her career and created some incredible friendships. It makes sense then, when she admits to having no regrets about accepting the role when it was offered to her for a second time leading into the show’s 4th season.
Janet Hubert has spent years trying to clear her name after it was reported that she was let go from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air due to being difficult. The actress has confessed to being unpleasant during his final days on set, something she attributed to pay disputes and a feeling of isolation she got from her cast. The truth was, Janet was a new mom who needed more money to support her family because her husband was not working. This led to tensions that made her impossible on set, leading to her firing.
Waiting in the wings for the role was Daphne Reid, one of the original actresses offered the role prior to Hubert being cast. According to Reid, she was gearing up to move out of Los Angeles when she got offered the opportunity to act opposite a rapper on a new sitcom. She laughed off the idea and said she had no interest in working with a rapper who could not act.
When the show finally aired, Daphne says she realized that Will was actually talented and admitted that she had missed out. As fate would have it, Reid would get a second shot at the role following Hubert’s exit. This time around if she wanted the part, she would have to fight for it, going up against 200-300 other actresses for the role.
Reid eventually got to test with star James Avery and noted instantly their chemistry. Obviously the directors did two and decided to bring her on to replace Hubert. Reid says that her and Avery forged a fantastic friendship that lasted long past the show. Daphne and her husband Tim Reid (Sister, Sister) would eventually become good friends with James and his wife and would frequently travel together.
When asked if she had any regrets about taking the role, Reid said there were none. Speaking truthfully, she acknowledged that every actor is replaceable based on the writer’s and producer’s vision. She had nothing to do with Hubert’s exit and never felt guilt for taking on the role. She also was happy that Hubert joined the cast for their HBO Max reunion special and said that Hubert “belonged there.” Daphne was happy to see that any drama between Hubert and the rest of the cast had been squashed and reminded people that it never had anything to do with her. Daphne also noted that her favorite scene in The Fresh Prince is the iconic one of Will and Uncle Phil addressing his father, leaving him after popping up in his life unannounced. Reid recalls how Avery helped Will get through the scene, coaching him and eventually complimenting him when he nailed his performance.