Alfonso Ribeiro Talks Passing On ‘A Different World’ Role To Star In ‘The Fresh Prince’

Apparently, the former child actor was nearly recruited to Hillman College.

Many fans of 1990s-era pop culture are patiently waiting for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion to debut this Thursday, November 19. Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and Alfonso Ribeiro got back together. Even “the original Aunt Viv” Janet Hubert-Whitten was part of the show. James Avery (Uncle Phil) passed away in 2013.

Back in September, Smith got many of his Instagram followers excited about The Fresh Prince 30th-anniversary celebration when he posted photos with his castmates from the set. He announced The Fresh Prince reunion special was headed to the HBO Max streaming service.

This week, some of the actors and actresses from the popular NBC sitcom made appearances on The Tamron Hall Show. It turns out, Alfonso Ribeiro – who played the preppy, dance-loving Carlton Banks – was nearly part of another NBC series from the same time period.

“I kind of walked away from the business for a little bit. When I came back, I had an opportunity to do two shows and one was called A Different World, which was the spin-off with Lisa Bonet and Kadeem Hardison, and then I got the opportunity to do this pilot or presentation for a buddy of mine, Will, called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Ribeiro explained to Hall. “I had to actually make a choice as to which one I wanted to do because if I had chosen A Different World, it’d been a whole different story, right?”

He continued, “I picked the role of Carlton because I had hung out with Will and Jeff. We went to Disneyland and Endless Summer Jam. And having spent time with them, I felt there was some sort of magic there, there was something special about them. Whether he could act or whether he could deliver being an actor, nobody knew. But I felt like, ‘Wow, this is something that if it works out is going to blow up and be special.’ I had to make the choice. One was already on the air for several seasons. This was a presentation that wasn’t even maybe not even a real pilot, but something in my gut said that Will was going to be special.”

A Different World aired for six seasons between 1987 and 1993. The Cosby Show spin-off was led by Lisa Bonet for one season. Throughout its run, A Different World also starred Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy, Dawnn Lewis, Darryl M. Bell, Charnele Brown, Cree Summer, Glynn Turman, Jada Pinkett, Sinbad, Marisa Tomei, Loretta Devine, Jenifer Lewis, Diahann Carroll, and Patti LaBelle. In 1990, Ribeiro made an appearance on the “Hillman Isn’t Through With You Yet” episode of the HBCU-set show.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s first broadcast took place on September 10, 1990. It went on to produced 148 episodes over six seasons. Will Smith recently revealed a new dramatic version of the classic is coming to the NBCUniversal-owned Peacock streaming service. The reboot was inspired by Morgan Cooper’s fan-made trailer for a more serious story about the fictional Will Smith and his family.