Al­fonso Ribeiro

“I’ve had to rein­vent my­self and change the en­tire nar­ra­tive. I’m no longer able to act. I’m a host. I’m a di­rec­tor, in or­der to be able to con­tinue do­ing a job in the in­dus­try that I love.”

Variety - - Final Cut -

Al­fonso Ribeiro burst on the en­ter­tain­ment scene with the ti­tle role in Broad­way’s “The Tap Dance Kid,” and earned his first Va­ri­ety men­tion on Dec. 22, 1983, a rave re­view, when he was just barely 12 years old. He went on to star in his most rec­og­niz­able role as the sweater-lov­ing Carl­ton Banks on 1990’s com­edy “The Fresh Prince of Bel-air,” op­po­site Will Smith. Since then, Ribeiro has dab­bled in a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing, from re­al­ity com­pe­ti­tions like “Danc­ing With the Stars” (which he won) to di­rect­ing TV episodes (in­clud­ing comedies “All of Us” and “Are We There Yet?”) to his cur­rent gig as the host of “Amer­ica’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos” — the big $100,000 episode of which aired Jan. 6. The multi-hy­phen­ate isn’t go­ing to stop any­time soon, and calls be­ing an en­ter­tainer “all I’ve ever loved.”

Hav­ing been in the in­dus­try since you were 8, what kept you go­ing when you faced ad­ver­sity? What’s the best ad­vice some­one’s given you about the in­dus­try?

I wouldn’t ever say that there’s one piece of ad­vice. Life is a jour­ney. It’s a long road with many ups and downs and speed bumps and pot­holes and mag­nif­i­cent days. I am very much a glass-half-full per­son. I think pas­sion is such an im­por­tant part of suc­cess, and that’s trans­lated to my ca­reer. This is a busi­ness where most peo­ple can’t say, “Hey, look at me — I’ve been do­ing this for [40] years.” I’m 47 now. It’s a very spe­cial thing.

Do you ever get tired of do­ing the Carl­ton dance?

I don’t get tired of do­ing the Carl­ton, be­cause I don’t do the Carl­ton. Ob­vi­ously this show is some­thing I did for many, many years and has af­forded me a won­der­ful life. I’m ap­pre­cia­tive that fan base is still lov­ing it, but I’m not do­ing it ev­ery time some­one asks me to. I’m a lit­tle over it. I’ve been over it for 20 years. I’m ap­pre­cia­tive of the fact that peo­ple get the joy out of the mem­ory. I sim­ply honor them, but it ain’t gonna hap­pen.

You played Carl­ton, who’s very much the “up­tight nerd” type, for six sea­sons. Did you ever worry about be­ing pi­geon­holed for that role?

There was a time, yeah. I was younger and just out of “Fresh Prince,” and dur­ing the later years of the show I wanted peo­ple to know I’m act­ing. I grew up in the Bronx, you know? And dur­ing that time, re­al­ity tele­vi­sion was start­ing to take off, so the younger gen­er­a­tion was hav­ing a hard time un­der­stand­ing the dif­fer­ences of what’s real, what’s act­ing. So peo­ple au­to­mat­i­cally thought I was that guy. I loved act­ing, but I couldn’t do that type of guy any­more. I’ve had to rein­vent my­self and change the en­tire nar­ra­tive. I’m no longer able to act. I’m a host. I’m a di­rec­tor, in or­der to be able to con­tinue do­ing a job in the in­dus­try that I love.

What drives your mo­ti­va­tion to branch out into so many things?

I love be­ing an en­ter­tainer, and I feel like I don’t have to work a day in my life. I go to work, but I don’t feel like I’m work­ing. I don’t feel like I’ve got to strug­gle. But I don’t feel like I’m ever go­ing to squan­der that. A day a job ends is the day you look for your next job.

If you weren’t do­ing en­ter­tain­ment, what would you be do­ing?

It’s all I’ve ever loved. But if I wasn’t in the in­dus­try, I prob­a­bly would have gone to law school. [Law is] some­thing that I love de­bat­ing. My wife says, “That would’ve been a lu­cra­tive ca­reer for you.”

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