Rarely do you hear The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro talk candidly about other areas of his life. But he revealed some of his personal struggles to Atlanta Black Star, particularly his feelings of not being fully accepted by the Black community.
Fans of The Fresh Prince know that Ribeiro’s character Carlton was a commentary on young Black conservatives who exist in very privileged bubbles. However, Carlton’s characterization was able to expand people’s views on what constitutes as “Blackness” in the episode where a Black fraternity accuses Carlton of not being Black enough to join, leading Carlton to give a speech on why he doesn’t have to prove his Blackness to anyone. That episode was brought up in the Atlanta Black Star interview, leading Ribeiro to admit that Carlton’s struggles with acceptance mirror his own
“It still happens almost every day, unfortunately,” Ribeiro said about being challenged on his Blackness. “I am in a mixed relationship. And I get things and looks and comments constantly. And I find it very interesting because you see a lot of things on social media where people say things and people have positions and perspectives. And it’s not easy to make that choice, because you’re not at home in any home. I’m never going to be white and I’m never going to be fully supported in the Black house.”
“I’m in my own little world with support from almost no one, to be in love with someone I’ve fallen in love with. How does that make sense? It doesn’t,” he continued. “We all want to live in a world where everyone is accepted for being and loving and living the way they choose to live. I will support any person that wants to live in a world that they want to live in.”
He also insinuated that he has never been formally invited to the BET Awards, despite his work on The Fresh Prince being such a big part of Black culture (note, Ribeiro did attend in 2005 with the cast of the show).
“I laugh at the fact that I am a mainstream television host, been in the game forever and I could purchase tickets to go to the BET Awards. So it is what it is. I’m not going to purchase the ticket…But at the end of the day, if that’s the view they take, then that’s the view they take. I can’t change their mind. All I can do is live my life and be me and be the best version of me. And continue to love everybody equally, and let it fall where it falls.”
On a positive note, Ribeiro spoke fondly of his friendship with Will Smith, whom he said didn’t have an ego with him on set.
“Well, we were friends before. So that helped a lot,” Ribeiro said. “We were able to…play on set. We were able to not take things so seriously that our egos would never get in the way of creating funny. The things that we learend very early on was, if I’m his straight man and he gets the big laugh, we both win. If he’s my straight man and I get the big laugh, we both win….I believe our success on the show was so great because we never stopped each other from winning.”