Janet Hubert

Janet Louise Hubert (born January 13, 1956)[1] is an American film and television actress. She is best known for playing the role of the original Vivian Banks on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from its first season in 1990 until the end of its third season in 1993. Hubert was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in 1991.[2] Her performance as Mignon on the digital series King Ester garnered her first Daytime Emmy Award nomination in 2020.[3]

Janet Hubert
Janet Louise Hubert

(1956-01-13) January 13, 1956 (age 66)
EducationJuilliard School
Years active1980–present
James Whitten
(m. 1990⁠–⁠1994)

Larry Kraft
(m. 2005)

Early life

Hubert was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent her early days growing up on Chicago's South Side.[1] At the age of nine she moved with her family to rural Chicago.[1] She won a scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York City, but did not complete her studies.[1]


After performing in the national tour of Dancin',[4] Hubert made her Broadway debut in 1981, in the ensemble of The First, a short-lived musical about Jackie Robinson.[5] Hubert created the role of Tantomile in the original Broadway production of Cats, and also understudied Grizabella and Demeter.[6] She left Cats in April 1983 to star in the national tour of Sophisticated Ladies, opposite Dee Dee Bridgewater and Gregg Burge.[7] Hubert played Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the role she is most known for. After she was allegedly fired by the makers of The Fresh Prince, Hubert's character was recast and played by Daphne Maxwell Reid for the remainder of the show's run. At the time, Will Smith, the show's star, said Hubert "brought her problems to work" and wanted to be the star of the show. Hubert said Smith had gotten her fired.[8]

Hubert was featured in a 2002 episode of Friends as Chandler's boss. In 2005, she began playing the recurring role of Lisa Williamson, mother of attorney Evangeline Williamson, on One Life to Live. Her character has made occasional appearances since then. She was featured as Michel Gerard's mother in an episode of the CW show Gilmore Girls. She has made appearances on episodes of All My Children, NYPD Blue, The Bernie Mac Show, and Tyler Perry's House of Payne, among others. In November 2018, it was announced that Hubert had been cast on the daytime soap opera, General Hospital; she made her debut as Yvonne on December 7, 2018.[9][10]

Hubert appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion on HBO Max in November 2020. In a private conversation for the special, she and Smith spoke for the first time since her departure from the show. More information and context was offered regarding the situation and her exit. Hubert discussed issues in her personal life, her abusive marriage and revealed she had not actually been fired from the show as largely believed; she was offered a "bad deal" to return for the fourth season, a deal she turned down. Smith spoke about how he was neither "sensitive" nor "perceptive" to Hubert's situation and that he was very young and immature at that time. Being a parent now, however, has taught him how to understand what she was dealing with. Smith assured Hubert he wishes he had acted differently and apologized for his actions. In the end, the two appeared to reconcile. Hubert then joined the rest of the guests at the reunion.[11][12]

Hubert appeared on FX's Pose in Season 3 as a family member of Billy Porter's character, Pray Tell, alongside Jackée Harry and Anna Maria Horsford.[13]

Personal life

Hubert was married to James Whitten from 1990 to 1994; they had a son, Elijah Isaac Whitten. She has been married to Larry Kraft since 2005. She suffers from osteoporosis and is the ambassador of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Agent on Ice Lola
1986 Sylvester: Someone Like You Video short
1995 White Man's Burden Dinner Guest
2001 30 Years to Life Joy's Mom
2004 Proud Larry's Mother
Neurotica The Neighbor
2013 Mom Judy Curtains
2015 No Letting Go Dr. Stacey Slater
2016 Not Another Black Movie Aunt Gloria
TBA The Perfect Find Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1982 The Neighborhood Doris Campbell TV movie
1986 Pros and Cons Roberta TV movie
1988 Hunter Vanessa Riley Episode: "The Fourth Man"
21 Jump Street Councilwoman Travers Episode: "Fun with Animals"
1989 Hooperman Loretta Todd Episode: "Look Homeward, Dirtbag"
A Man Called Hawk Serita Episode: "Poison"
1990 Tales from the Crypt Psyche Episode: "Till Death"
1990–93 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Vivian Banks Main cast (seasons 1-3)
1992–93 Reasonable Doubts Judge Mary Sims 2 episodes
1994 Dave's World Elise Episode: "Shel in Love"
Coach Karen Williams Episode: "Blue Chip Blues"
New Eden Ashtarte TV movie
1995 CBS Schoolbreak Special Elaine Baham Episode: "What About Your Friends"
1996 The Faculty Annette Freeman Episode: "Somewhere There's Music"
The Pretender Madam Director Episode: "The Paper Clock"
1997 The Jamie Foxx Show Edwina DuBois Episode: "Act Like You Love Me"
Goode Behavior Dr. Pamela Fordham Episode: "Goode Lovin'"
Lawless Esther Hayes Episode: "Pilot"
1998 NYPD Blue Hiruut Kebede Episode: "Weaver of Hate"
1999 All My Children Alice Dawson Episode: "20 May 1999"
2001–02 The Job Adina Phillips Recurring cast; 4 episodes
2002 Weakest Link Herself 4th one voted off
Gilmore Girls Gisele Gerard Episode: "Back in the Saddle Again"
Friends Ms. McKenna Episode: "The One Where Emma Cries"
2003–04 The Bernie Mac Show Leora 2 episodes
2004 Christmas at Water's Edge Mrs. Turner TV movie
2005–10 One Life to Live Lisa Williamson 9 episodes
2011 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Evelyn Episode: "A Mother's Payne"
2015 Life Twirls On Aunt Lorraine TV series
Ward of the State Diana Ward TV series
2016–17 If Loving You Is Wrong Diane Recurring cast; 5 episodes
2018–20 General Hospital Yvonne Godfrey 10 episodes
2019 King Ester Mignon Pappion Main cast
Christmas Belles Whitley TV movie
2020 Broadway Celebrates Veterans Day Herself TV miniseries
54 Below Premieres Herself Episode: "Norm Lewis: Christmastime Is Here!"
2021 Pose Latrice Episode: "Take Me to Church"
The Last O.G. Miss May Miller 2 episodes
Love Life Donna Watkins Recurring cast; 5 episodes


Year(s) Title Role(s) Notes
1980 Dancin' Performer[15]
1981 The First Passenger/Opal/fan[16] Broadway debut
1982 Cats Tantomile[17]
1983 Sophisticated Ladies Performer[18][19]
1984 Sleeping Beauty Carameen[20]
2002 Crowns Wanda[21]

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Denise Clinton


Year Nominee/work Award Category Result
1991 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2014 Grand Theft Auto V Behind the Voice Actors Award Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game
2020 King Ester Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series


  1. ^ a b c d "Janet Hubert Biography". Biography. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  2. ^ "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - Series - Awards - TV Tango". www.tvtango.com.
  3. ^ Hipes, Patrick. "Daytime Emmy Nominations: 'General Hospital', 'Sesame Street', 'The View' Top List; CBS, Amazon Prime Lead Networks". Deadline. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Dancin' – Broadway Musical – 1980-1983 Tour | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  5. ^ The Broadway League. "The First – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  6. ^ "Cats". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  7. ^ "Sophisticated Ladies – Broadway Musical – 1983-1983 Tour | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  8. ^ "Smith, Whitten Feud Over Her 'Fresh Prince' Exit", Jet, Johnson Publishing Company, p. 59, 30 August 1993, ISSN 0021-5996
  9. ^ Rice, Lynette (November 18, 2018). "General Hospital casts Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Janet Hubert". Entertainment Weekly. United States: Time Inc. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  10. ^ SOD (November 18, 2018). "GH Taps Fresh Prince Alum". Soap Opera Digest. United States: American Media, Inc. Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group Inc. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  11. ^ Harris, Aisha. "Let's Talk About That Reconciliation During The 'Fresh Prince' Reunion Special". National Public Radio. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  12. ^ Neal, Savannah. "Will Smith 'so happy' to settle decades-long feud with Janet Hubert in 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' reunion". WBBM Newsradio 780. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Jones, Monique. "'Pose' Enlists Icons Jackée Harry, Janet Hubert And Anna Maria Horsford As Pray Tell's Family". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  14. ^ McCann, Bob (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland & Company. p. 170. ISBN 9780786437900.
  15. ^ "Dancin' – Broadway Musical – 1980-1983 Tour | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  16. ^ "The First Broadway @ Martin Beck Theatre - Tickets and Discounts". Playbill. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  17. ^ "Janet Hubert". Playbill. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  18. ^ "Sophisticated Ladies – Broadway Musical – 1983-1983 Tour | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  19. ^ Sophisticated Ladies in Japan - sophisticated lady (1983), archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2021-02-11
  20. ^ "1984_0815 Yawns in the New Sleeping Beauty". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1984-08-15. p. 24. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  21. ^ Weber, Bruce (2002-12-04). "THEATER REVIEW; Using Hats Seriously But in Fun (Published 2002)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-11.

External links