Nearly 3,000 fans packed Brooklyn’s historic Kings Theatre for the second stop on Will Smith’s tour in support of his just-released memoir, WILL.
During the event, titled “Will Smith: An Evening of Stories with Friends,” the rapper turned actor reminded fans of his hip-hop roots with performances of his recent feature on Joyner Lucas’s “Feeling Like Will” and discussed the more personal pain points and life lessons revealed in his new book in conversation with director Spike Lee. Smith also answered impromptu questions shouted out by attendees and delighted all present with renditions of some of his classic hits.
When revealing some of the celebrity audience members who came to support his long-awaited memoir, such as hip-hop originators Grandmaster Caz and Eric B, and former The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar, Karyn Parsons, the actor turned author shocked the sold-out crowd with the revelation that his former television aunt, Janet Hubert, was also in attendance.
“The original Aunt Viv!” Smith exclaimed as fans exploded in applause at the sight of Hubert in the orchestra of the theater. “Get your flowers! Take it in! Take that in!” he encouraged as Hubert stood and thanked fans for their cheers and appreciation. The actress received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted a full two minutes.
Hubert’s very presence at an event celebrating Smith’s latest achievement marks a full-circle moment for their relationship. The actress famously spent decades publicly firing shots at Smith and his family over the mistreatment she received on-set filming the classic 90s sitcom and the subsequent effect that negative perception of her, promoted by Smith and production, had on her career. Hubert was replaced on The Fresh Prince after three seasons of playing the matriarch of the Banks family, the last of which she spent filming while pregnant.
“That is such a beautiful thing, and thank you all,” he told the crowd as the swell of applause finally subsided. “You know, Janet and I—I’m assuming you all saw—Janet and I a few months ago at the 30th anniversary of The Fresh Prince, for the first time [we] talked out the issues we had and it was one of the most healing experiences of my life,” he continued. “It was a big part of the place that working on this memoir got me into.
“I just want to thank you, Janet, for being open,” he closed out, blowing her multiple kisses. “That’s a big part of the exploration I wanted to do in this book.” Tearful, Hubert nodded her head and clasped her hands in agreement.
The Brooklyn leg was only the second stop on Smith’s book tour, with events coming up in Chicago, Los Angeles and London rounding out the next two weeks.