Will Smith has finally spoken about Janet Hubert, the actress who says Smith ruined her career and reputation when he got her fired from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hubert rehashed the issue recently when she argued that the Smiths were being disingenous and self-serving for boycotting the Academy Awards and encouraging other black entertainers to follow suit.
During an interview with BBC's Radio 1xtra, Smith sang Hubert's praises when he was asked which Aunt Viv he liked better.
"I think that Janet Hubert brought a really powerful dignity to the show," Smith said, likely knowing that folks wanted him to address Hubert's comments, once and for all.
"I think she's brilliant. I think as an artist there's so many things that she does. She sings, she dances, she's like a really powerful artist. I loved what she brought to the Fresh Prince," he continued.
He said that he understood people's frustrations about replacing the actress as Aunt Viv, since they had grown accustomed to Hubert and were fond of her portrayal of the character.
"I think that both of the Aunt Vivs were really, really fantastic," he said. "I think when you make a show, any time that you make a change, it's going to be excruciating and painful."
In the same "keeping it real" vein, he also admitted that every now and then he questions whether he and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, went "too far" with the amount of freedom and self-expression they've encouraged their children to have.
"Yeah, I think it may have been a mistake. We may have gone too far," Smith said, laughing, although he says he's proud of how "fearless" his son Jaden has become.
"Jaden is 100 percent fearless," Smith said. "He will do anything. As a parent, it's scary. But he is willing to live and die by his own artistic decisions. He just doesn't concern himself with what people think."
Regarding the lack of diversity in Hollywood and a certain award show, Smith said the film and television industries are supposed to be leading the pack when it comes to inclusivity, so he's ashamed that they've fallen behind.
Lastly, the Concussion actor candidly discussed his and his wife's decision not to attend this year's Academy Awards ceremony.
"Hollywood is supposed to lead. It's supposed to be the most diverse and the most inclusive. All of the voices of so many different types of people and so many different types of stories," he said. "I'm just concerned that I'm seeing Hollywood slipping and making a slide that is a social and political slide that's happening throughout the country.”
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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.
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