Growing up, there were few women on TV that shared the same deep, brown complexion as me and even fewer that played lead roles. More often than not, they played the single, smart-mouthed sidekick to the fairer skinned friend who had it all– a man and dream job included. While there may have been some exceptions to that sterotype, that’s what I saw for the most part.
Needless to say, it was refreshing when a character came along that broke the mold. For me, that character was Dark-Skinned Aunt Viv. Actress Janet Hubert, played the original and darker aunt Vivian on 90’s sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Although her character was ultimately replaced, she still stands out in the minds of many. Rapper J. Cole even dropped a line about her in his 2014 single, No Role Modelz. Now you know you that chick when you get name dropped in one of the hottest rapper’s songs.
Here’s why Aunt Viv has earned a special place in my heart:
1. She was smart
If you can recall she taught Carlton and Will’s history class at one point and schooled them on life on more than one occassion.
2. She kept her family in line
I’ll never forgot how quick Aunt Viv snatched her earrings off when she found out that Carlton wanted to prove that he could be “down” by venturing off into the hood to sell some knock off Korean Gucci handbags. Classic moment in Black mother’s history.
3. She challenged herself
When Aunt Viv was going through something of a mid-life crisis, she didn’t allow herself to stay down for long! She proved that she could keep up with the young girls by slaying a dance routine, opposite women half her age!
Nowdays, when we do hear from the dark-skinned aunt Viv, it’s usually not in the best light. She tends to make headlines over her strained relationship with the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, however it doesn’t dim the impact of her role in my eyes.
I don’t know about you, but the second aunt Viv just didn’t do it for me and it has has nothing to do with her complexion. Where the first aunt Viv worked, held down the household and was more vocal, the replacement didn’t seem to do as much. What about you? Did you identify with the first or second aunt Viv?
– A Black Girl About Town