HERE IS A VERY GOOD ARTICLE REGARDING THE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION SET UP BY KARYN PARSONS, AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS HILARY BANKS FROM "FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR" FAME. I LOVE THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION, AND IT IS A WELCOME SIGHT TO SEE HIP HOP GENERATION CONTEMPORARIES FLEXING THEIR MUSCLES IN VARIOUS WAYS. A SPECIAL THANKS GOES TO ZACH DIONNE, ARTICLE WRITER VIA WWW.POPEATER.COM. YOU CAN ALSO VIEW A SNIPPET OF WHAT MS. PARSONS HAS BEEN WORKING ON FROM A CREATIVE STANDPOINT, GIVING BACK SOMETHING TANGIBLE TO THE MOST IMPRESSIONABLE OF INDIVIDUALS, OUR YOUTH. ENJOY THE READ, AND GO TO THE LINK AT THE END TO SEE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE AUCTION.
Karyn Parsons couldn't be more different from her nasty 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' alter-ego Hilary Banks. A generous, conversational mother mostly distanced from acting for the last decade, Parsons founded Sweet Blackberry, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing rarely told inspirational stories of African-American history.
Now Parsons is staging a Charitybuzz auction where the winner and a guest will spend time with four reunited members of the 'Fresh Prince' cast as a benefit for Sweet Blackberry. "It's a dining experience," Parsons tells PopEater, "with Alfonso Ribeiro [Carlton], Tatyana Ali [Ashley], James Avery [Uncle Phil] and myself, and a meet-and-greet with Will Smith. Will's gonna come by and hang for a minute and meet the winner."
Read our full conversation here, touching on everything from Will to Willow to a bizarre 'Transformers 3' rumor.
This reunion is going to be huge for the auction winner.
I mean, I hope! [Laughs] It's so funny because for us it's such a different thing. For six years we kind of took for granted our wonderful relationship. You were used to seeing these people every day. It's a different experience for a fan of the show, but even for me, shoot, it makes me want to bid on it to get everybody together. It seems like just weddings is how we all end up getting together.
It's a pricey lunch, though. The bid is past $3,200 right now.
You know, Will is always worth it. I mean, we all are, but Will, I have to say, is great. He's such a generous, fun person, and I think he always makes it worth someone's while.
The Will Smith-ness comes across even in a brief meet-and-greet, huh?
He's not somebody who just turns it on or turns it off. Will's one of those people that walks in a room and all that charisma is just him. He can't really help it, it's just who he is. He's very positive, very bright.
Who'll be the biggest surprise for a 'Fresh Prince' fan to meet? I'm guessing you or Carlton. Er, Alfonso.
Definitely Alf and I, without a doubt. Oh yeah, Tweedledee and Tweedledum! [Laughs] We were the ones that really played knucklehead characters. I like to think we're not like that.
Where's the auction money going to go? How will it be used?
It's going to benefit Sweet Blackberry, which is an educational organization I started in order to bring little-known stories of African-American achievement to children. My mother headed the Black Resource Center in Los Angeles at her library, and she used to tell me stories, incredible information and stories from archives. One day she told me the story of Henry "Box" Brown, who was a slave who literally mailed himself, in a box, to freedom. It was a true story, and I couldn't believe I had never heard it. This story, on so many levels, has such magnitude.
So that got the wheels turning.
It was such an obvious story. A man inside of a box, pretending to be mail. I immediately thought, "That's a book." I wanted to a series of books for children that tell stories that we don't hear about.
And the Henry "Box" Brown story became your first Sweet Blackberry DVD.
It was the impetus for the whole thing, and it became the first one. In schools we seem to get a handful of stories we're told -- incredible stories of black people from history, but just a handful, kind of the same people that we always hear about. Yet black people helped build this country. I don't think we understand that. Obviously it's important for black children, but it's important for all of us to understand this together, to see our value and our neighbors' value and how we relate and how our culture is all of our culture and its history is all of our history. It should be all together for all of us to understand that.
How did you approach that goal?
I started it after my daughter was a couple years old. I wanted to pull more stories up that are relevant and teach lessons to children about overcoming obstacles. Obstacles are actually opportunities for greatness, which we learn from the stories. The first one, about Henry "Box" Brown, Alfre Woodard narrated. It's a lightly animated story. Then Queen Latifah narrated our second one, 'Garrett's Gift.'
See a Sweet Blackberry clip:
Sweet Blackberry Intro from karyn parsons on Vimeo.
Sounds like you stay busy. How often do you see your old co-stars? Was it easy pulling them together for this?
Well Tatyana is on the board of Sweet Blackberry. It doesn't mean I get to see her all the time; as far as I'm concerned I don't see any of them enough. James I get to see, he lives by me. Every time I see Will, I don't want to let him go. I'm like, "I don't know how long it's going to be 'til I get to see you!" He's wonderful, and he's the same Will. He's just so busy. He's a wanted man.
There were rumors about a year ago, talking up an actual 'Fresh Prince' reunion episode. Did you ever hear about that?
I hear that all the time.
I doubt it. I don't know, maybe? It's possible. As long as Geoffrey doesn't have to wear his butler outfit while the rest of us wear gowns and tuxes. I have no objection whatsoever. I don't know if I could drag Hilary out, dust her off.
Tatyana Ali told me she gets such a warm response everywhere she goes, that she feels like fans really care about her because of her character. With Hilary, it's probably a different story...
Oh yeah, they wanna dropkick me. I had a friend say a guy jumped in at a bar and defended Tatyana. People feel like she's their little Ashley. But no, Hilary never had that. I was in Paris and some people come up to me and said, "You were that girl! On that show! We hated you!" Oh, thank you. Hilary definitely gets a different reception. That was part of the fun of playing her. I'm over it.
Showbiz isn't your main gig anymore, so why is IMDb saying you're in 'Transformers 3'?
[Laughs] No! I don't know what ... it's a lie! I don't know what happened or how. I had a family member on Facebook go, "Great news on 'Transformers 3,' Karyn, congratulations!" I was like, "What are you talking about?" Someone's trying to keep me current.
So you never heard about it?
I never heard about an audition. I have no idea. A couple years ago I saw that I was gonna do the biopic of Wendy Williams. Where that came from, I can't begin to imagine.
What would it take to get you back into acting?
I never say never. I have to say that now. I'm so consumed with a 7-year-old, a 3-year-old and Sweet Blackberry. My plate is so insanely full it's hard for me to think about it right now, but I've never stopped loving acting. We'll see what happens.
How do Will and Jada juggle family and showbiz so deftly?
Uh ... help? They're there and they're very present, but they can also structure their life because of their situation. And Willow and Jaden are doing their things too now, aren't they? They're incredibly smart, thoughtful parents.
What do you think of Willow, anyway?
She blew me away. Will played a little of 'Whip My Hair' for me before it was released -- it sounded like Rihanna or something. I was like, "Whoa, how old is she?" She's incredibly talented, and she's a really cool kid. She's been her own strong personality, a real strong flavor, since day one. You can see it when you watch the video -- it's all her own thing.
What do your kids think, knowing you know the Smiths?
We went to the 'Karate Kid' premiere, and my daughter was so excited. She didn't meet Jaden or Willow, which was probably fine because she would've been so overwhelmed. She would've passed out.
FOLLOW "FRESH PRINCE" AUCTION AND BID THROUGH FEBRUARY 28TH
Article link: http://www.popeater.com/2011/02/15/fresh-prince-reunion-karyn-parsons-sweet-blackberry/
Article written by: Zach Dionne
Date posted: February 15, 2011
Site credit: AOL Original/Pop Eater