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2020 is a year that has knocked us off our feet. But this reunion is the latest example of some of the very good that has come from this year.
Published 11/25/2020 | Reading Time 2 mins 54 secs
By: Mike Creef, Senior Writer
Will Smith (left); Janet Huber (right)
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year filled with many low points. There has been enough turmoil and heartache to fill an entire decade, it feels. The history books will need a whole encyclopedia for this year alone. One story they won’t be able to leave out is the fantastic reconciliation between Will Smith and Janet Hubert.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is incredibly short, and tomorrow is never promised. There is no better time to heal old wounds or repair burned bridges than the present. That’s why we are incredibly excited about the fact that Will and Janet got the chance to sit down and begin that journey.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was an iconic sitcom for the culture running from 1990 – 1996. When there was very little representation of Black families on the television, Fresh Prince filled a void left by the ending of The Cosby Show(1992) and appealing to a new pop culture generation. Families would gather around their television sets each Monday night to watch new episodes as well as reruns for the last 30 years. It was a show mostly filled with lighthearted comedy but also tackled some pretty heavy social topics.
When Daphne Reid recast Janet Hubert as Aunt Vivian, many fans wondered what the cause was. It didn’t help that there was no real communication from producers or any of the show’s actors as to why. We began to see that maybe the departure wasn’t as amicable as show executives led us to believe when in 1993, on an Atlanta radio show, Smith gave us this quote after her departure:
“I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be ‘The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show’… She’s mad now, but she’s been mad all along. She once said, ‘I’ve been in the business for ten years, and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her, I’m just the Antichrist.”
The back-and-forth barbs from Smith and Hubert only escalated throughout the years. With each actor using media outlets to share insults over two-plus decades, it seemed like there would never be a real moment of reconciliation. It wasn’t until HBO Max’s new Fresh Prince Reunion special that we began to learn what took place almost three decades ago. In her own words, Hubert was never fired by producers, she refused what she felt was a bad offer, and in turn, producers recast her role.
One of the toughest things hearing Hubert say was that her own family disowned her because of how things ended with the show, that she ruined their name. She specifically said, “I lost everything, reputation, everything…calling a black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death.” If that isn’t one of the hardest truths to hear, I don’t know what is.
I appreciate that Smith asked Hubert to start the reconciliation process by sharing her story and her side of how things made her feel; this is an excellent example of how we all should approach apologies. The side where the blame lies should do more of the listening than the talking.
Speaking from personal experience, there have been many times when I’ve apologized for something that I have done and didn’t give the other party the full opportunity first to share their side of things and say how it made them feel. I was more concerned with clearing my conscience than allowing them to say what they needed to speak to heal completely.
To me, that’s the biggest takeaway from Smith and Hubert’s talk; when looking to apologize for something, try doing more listening than talking. When we do this, we learn things that we did not previously know, become aware of how our actions caused someone else to feel, and better understand why we are apologizing truly. It’s not about one side clearing their conscience but rather both sides coming to a place where they can fully healthily express their feelings, hopefully leading to understanding.
2020 is a year that has knocked us off our feet. But this reunion is the latest example of some of the very good that has come from this year. Hopefully, it inspires more people to bury the hatchet and inject more love into our society that desperately needs it.