Some people may remember Janet Hubert as the beloved “Aunt Viv“ #1 on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” starring Will Smith before she was unceremoniously let go from the show after three seasons. Then, there are others who may only be familiar with her recent rant against Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s call for a boycott of the Academy Awards because , #OscarsSoWhite. What most people don’t know is that long before she was the bougie aunt of the street-wise teenage Will, Hubert was an original cast member of one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.
The musical, based upon Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, tells the story of the Jellicle Cats and the one special night of the year that they come out to play – the night of the Jellicle Ball. On this night, each cat tells their story to their leader “Old Deuteronomy,” who must choose one of the Cats to “ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.”
Hubert was cast as “Tantomile” who, along with her twin brother, “Coricopat,” is believed to be psychic. The twins are often the first to sense changes, such as the approach of “Old Deuteronomy.” “Tantomile” is mysterious and quiet, staying mostly with Coricopat.
In addition to her roles in Cats and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Hubert also has appeared in several television shows, including Tyler Perry’s “House of Pain,” ” One Live to Live”, “NYPD Blue,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “Friends”. Unfortunately, her career after “The Fresh Prince” has often been overshadowed by her 25-year old beef with Smith whom she believes got her fired from the show. Clearly, Hubert is a talented actress and if it’s true that Webber’s Cats will return to Broadway, maybe she can reprise her role as “Tantomile.”
Now we know why she was so fierce in this classic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air scene!