Tatyana Ali Reveals She Had to 'Take a Beat' When Talking to New Actress Playing Her Iconic Character From Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; Deets Here

Ali enters the rebooted version of the original sitcom nearly 30 years after bidding goodbye to it, this time as Akira Akbar's on-screen English Literature teacher. 

Published on Jun 25, 2024  |  04:23 PM IST |  33.4K
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Tatyana Ali (PC: Instagram)

Tatyana Ali, the original Ashley Banks from the 90s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, could not stop gushing about meeting the reimagined version of her character in the show’s modern interpretation.

In Bel-Air, the 2022 drama series, Akira Akbar reprises the role of Ashley, the youngest of the Banks siblings. Ali enters nearly 30 years after bidding goodbye to the original sitcom, this time as the former’s on-screen English Literature teacher. 

Tatyana Ali speaks about the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot

While speaking to PEOPLE magazine exclusively for the story, Ali described this as a “360-degree moment” for her, with her nostalgically recollecting all the memories with the cast of yesteryear- famously including Will Smith, James Avery, Philip Banks, Janet Hubert-Whitten, and Daphne Maxwell Reid. She also spoke about offering advice to the young star, who has previously appeared in Captain Marvel, We Can Be Heroes and This Is Us. 

“I’m telling this beautiful Ashley, ‘Always be yourself. Never let anybody define you,’” detailed the veteran star to the outlet, further revealing that it was surely a hard-hitting moment for her when she had to go face-to-face with Akbar, watching her dressed in the way she used to in the early days. 

“I had to take a beat. I told the director, I was like, ‘Are we done? Okay, thank you so much.’ And I went around the wall. I just bawled, because my heart exploded,” explained Ali.

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But despite that, she bears a lot of respect for her younger counterpart, even quipping to people that they are “a part of a two-girl sorority.” She acknowledged that to be so young and a part of a hit show at the same time is not an easy feat, since it requires a lot of “self-protection”, “knowing who you are” and “competence.” 

Bel-Air's reimagined universe

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Ashley’s elder brother in the original sitcom, showered his praises for Olly Sholotan, the new actor who takes up his role, calling him a “lovely, wonderful young man.” 

The reimagined series takes a different route from the original’s comic tone, with a 1-hour long drama episode format. The original chronicles the story of a fictionalized Will Smith, a teen from Philadelphia who is sent off to live with his aunt and uncle at their Bel-Air mansion. Loosely based on the real-life persona of the beloved star, the show has been credited for catapulting Smith into a successful big-screen career. 

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The reboot Bel-Air was released on Peacock in February 2022 and has been renewed for a second and third season since then. The latest season is set to premiere in August of this year. 

ALSO READ: Did Will Smith Have A Music Career? Here's When Bad Boys Actor Decided to Face The Camera

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