Janet Hubert; Where Sheâ€™s Now
â€œCelebrities are trained monkeys,â€ she says, when asked her view of Hollywood. â€œI see Nicole Ritchie on a cover of a magazine; it is like saying that doing everything that we see is alright.â€
Remember Janet Hubert from the famous sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” as one of the most favored characters, Vivian Banks or Aunt Viv?
Yet there is much more to this talented actress and dancer. I recently had the great opportunity to explore her background and to see why she decided to get out of Hollywood and live life in the fast lane: away from the cameras.
Hubert was born in Chicago, however little did she know that her talent was bound to eventually attract a large audience on Broadway and that she would one day have her image beamed through millions of TV screens.
It helped that she won a scholarship to The Julliard School in New York City. Soon afterwards, she attended The Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Her talent reached the spotlights on Broadway in the 1980’s where she became one of the original cast members of “Cats.”
A few years later she attained her biggest break on the hit comedy sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” alongside Will Smith. Her tough, upper-class character brought laughs to people’s living rooms as her acting sparkled. After three years of being on the set of the sitcom, in 1993, Hubert became pregnant; she was quickly replaced with another Aunt Viv.
“After Fresh Prince I was beat up—having a baby; it was difficult,” Hubert tells The Black Star News.
She wanted to portray a real-life African mother in the sitcom; it was not just acting but bringing reality into the scene that was an important aspect for her. She says for her it was especially important “portraying a Black family.” She and the producers did not come to a final agreement, and hence she was forced off the show.
“Celebrities are trained monkeys,” she says, when asked her view of Hollywood. “I see Nicole Ritchie on a cover of a magazine; it is like saying that doing everything that we see is alright.”
“The new generation is in trouble,” she continues. “They are bombarded with media hearing sex, sex, sex; I call the pre-twenty age, the dangerous stage.”
Her son Elijah is now 15. Does mom want to see him follow in her footsteps in acting?
“My son is a left brainer.,” she says. “I taught him to read--he will most likely be more into science. My son refused to walk the walk and talk the talk.”
She is appalled that African peoples stereotyped a certain way. Her son is taking another road, more as a leader than a follower and he intends to do so without being placed in the spotlight in Hollywood, she says: “I want him to be like Bill Gates or Barack Obama.”
Hubert adds, “The new generation will have a rude awakening--they are so connected with technology.” She is big on reading and she’s authored a book, JC and the BC Kids in Chicago, which she says will help children gain a deeper insight in the lessons of life. BC, by the way stands for, “Before Corruption.”
She explains why she decided to write this book and what the protagonist represents: “I had nothing left, I could not dance or sing. For a couple of years I was ill, we created JC as a young artist, redesigned characters, I had samples made, I came up with equations.”
She shares her view of life: “You have to dare to dream and wake up to make that dream happen. Growing up is apart of life; getting old is a part of living.”
Hubert says there is reason for hope. She says there will be more unity in America with Barack Obama, who also serves as a good example to the new generation.
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