Aunt Viv still hasn’t forgiven the Fresh Prince.
Late Monday evening, actress Janet Hubert, who most audiences know as the original Aunt Viv on the celebrated ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, released a statement on Facebook—accompanied by a video testimonial—taking aim at her former co-star Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Girl please, why are you always speaking for your man?” wrote Hubert to Pinkett Smith in a post to her Facebook page that’s since been deleted. She then went on to criticize how Smith’s snubbed performance as Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion was subpar, claiming his “accent was all over the place” and “his female co-stars role was cut to nothing to make sure she did not outshine him.”
“Now you want other actors to support your cause and be blacklisted in Hollywood as I was because of your lying ass husband,” she continued. “When I asked Smith many years ago to stand up together for salary.. he did not.”
You see, Pinkett Smith had posted a powerful video to her Facebook page criticizing the Academy Awards for its staggering lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees, who were all white for the second year in a row (that’s 40 white nominees and zero nominees of color, for those keeping count), and adding that she’d be boycotting the ceremony.
“Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream ones. I don’t know,” she said. “Here’s what I do know: Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity, and diminishes power, and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful, and let’s not forget it.”
Spike Lee followed suit, and on Monday night, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American, released a lengthy statement about how “heartbroken and frustrated” she is about the “lack of inclusion,” and how they will be “taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.”And Hubert has a long-simmering beef with Smith. When she was suddenly replaced as Aunt Viv—by a lighter-skinned actress (Daphne Reid), no less—following Fresh Prince’s third season, audiences were left scratching their heads. After all, Hubert was one of the show’s finest performers, having even garnered an NAACP Image Award nod. Hubert has long maintained that Smith had a hand in her firing from the show—a claim that is thus far unsubstantiated.
“[Smith] said ‘we’re just gonna replace her and act like nothing happened,’” Hubert recounted of her 1993 exit, adding that Smith did “some heinous, horrible things to me—they were like bad kids, Will and Alfonso [Ribiero], especially Alfonso. He said that I was crazy and nobody wanted to go to lunch with me.”
In the accompanying video to the Smiths, Hubert also lashed out against their production company, claiming, “You have a huge production company that you only produce your friends, your family, and yourself, so you are a part of Hollywood, and you are a part of the system that is unfair to other actors. So get real.” (For the record, Smith has produced a number features starring persons of color that do not include his family, including Saving Face, ATL, The Secret Life of Bees, Lakeview Terrace, and the recent Annie remake.)
“You ain’t Barack and Michelle Obama,” Hubert added, “and y’all need to get over yourselves.”