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How “The Little Boy” In Will Smith Led To “30 Years of Shunning” For This Actress & Cost Her Career

Now, this is a story all about how the actresses life got flipped-turned upside down because of Will Smith.

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Will Smith is well-loved in the industry. Known to be wise, honest and a great role model to youth, Will Smith has the aura of someone who loves and is oved. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case. His iconic role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was not as smooth sailing as it may have seemed. As it turns out, the biggest (and probably one of the longest) feuds that Smith has had is with his older costar, Janet Hubert, who played ‘Aunt Viv’ in the first three seasons of the cult classic. Hubert’s exit from the show was a sour one, with her going on to call him an “egomaniac” and blaming Smith for her being cut from the show. Smith, in turn, is said to have claimed that the actress wanted the show to be centered around her, making it more “Aunt Viv of Bel Air” than about the ‘Fresh Prince’. Now, after 27 years, the two have buried the hatchet, but not without airing ALL their dirty laundry from way back then.

 

 

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Taking a page from his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s book, Will Smith sat himself down at the ‘Red Table’ with Youtuber Dr. Ramani Durvasula. During which, Smith explained how the feud started in the first place – and it stemmed from his traumatic childhood and turbulent relationship with his father (who he says would abuse his mother). As a result, Smith built the defense mechanism of making people laugh and when they didn’t, he’d ‘cut you bad enough’ that ‘you wouldn’t be able to respond.’ Seeing Hubert as a ‘parental figure’ of sort, Smith ended up lashing out after feeling threatened by Hubert’s presence as the phenomenal actress that she was.

 

“I felt threatened by Janet. On my ‘little boy in me’ level, I needed Mommy to think I was great and then once I realized that she didn’t, the – my dragon woke up.”

 

What exactly happened? Hubert’s side of the story is that Smith’s influence on the show, what with him taking the role of the titular character, was so big that it caused her to be shunned on set.

 

“You’re the big star, you know? I was just the little Black b****. I had been banished and they said it was you who banished me, because I didn’t laugh at your jokes. Then they ordered me to stay in my room, I couldn’t come out on the stage. And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set, I just stopped talking to everybody.”

 

 

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At the time, Hubert was both pregnant and struggling in her marriage, with her now-ex husband being abusive towards her. However, Smith’s treatment of ‘Aunt Viv’ was less than friendly. And because of his coldness towards her, Hubert spent 30 years trying to piece her reputation back together. Tearfully holding Smith accountable, she said:

 

“You took my career away of 30-something years. You just went too far when you were younger and I know you always had to win. You took all that away from me with your words. Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, everything.”

 

Hubert went on to say that it wasn’t just her that felt the result of Smith’s rejection – her family did too. While she received multiple death threats, her family received their fair share of the hate.

 

“They beat my son’s a**. Somebody smashed a cookie in my son’s face and said: ‘Your mother is a b****.’ People send me hateful Instagrams; ‘Aren’t you dead yet? I love Will. Why don’t you just die?’ It was hard. It was hard. And I promised my dad before he left this earth – and you know, you lost your dad – that I would clear my name ’cause it’s his name and my family said: ‘You’ve ruined our name.'”

 

And while Smith went on to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Hubert couldn’t recover her footing.

 

“I understand you were able to move forward. You know those words – calling a Black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.”

 

After hearing her side of the story, Smith thanked Hubert for being honest.

 

“First of all, thank you for sharing that with me. I didn’t know that, when I look back now it’s obvious that you were having a hard time and I felt like you hated me. The person I want to be is someone who protects you, not someone that unleashes dogs on you.”

 

And for Hubert, the experience was therapeutic.

 

 

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She tweeted,

 

“I am so thankful for all the love being shown and the understanding. Will and team let me participate in whatever I wanted and felt comfortable doing. After 27 years of disconnect we are all different people. It was great seeing everyone, life is too short!”

 

 

 

*Cover Image credits: Instagram / @willsmith  / NBCU Photo Bank

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