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Former Fresh Prince star forever doing the Carlton


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Now this is a story about how 1990s sitcom star Alfonso Ribeiro’s life got flipped, turned upside down


The flamboyant dance that's made Alfonso Ribeiro famous has been haunting him for the past two decades. Best known for his role as Carlton Banks on the 1990s sitcom hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ribeiro has been followed by his famous alter ego since the show went off the air.

Despite his constant association with Carlton, Ribeiro's been busy with other projects, including a position as the director of the new TBS show Are We There Yet? and a stint on Fox's Celebrity Duets.

Ribeiro understands that the character that has overshadowed his professional career for more than 20 years is the same character that has allowed him to be so successful since the conclusion of The Fresh Prince in 1996. The obsession with Carlton often reaches uncomfortable levels.

"It is what it is," Ribeiro says. "I understand the fascination and the love of the character — that's basically the way I look at it. I'm going to have to deal with talking about this character for the rest of my life, I might as well get paid for it."

"At the end of the day, I don't get frustrated by anything that [fans do], because it's been happening for over 20 years. People say some of the dumbest things that I've ever experienced. And I don't believe that the dumb questions are ever going to stop."

Carlton Banks has turned into a contemporary pop culture meme for millions of fans who watched The Fresh Prince in the 1990s. The character's idiosyncratic personality attracted fans to the show and has continued to keep Ribeiro in the public eye since the cancellation of the popular show.

"There is a cross understanding there that is different from anything that's ever been done. It's not like [Family Matters character Steve] Urkel — who's a caricature — Carlton is an actual guy," Ribeiro says of his former character's appeal. "He might be a little over the top, he might be a little broad at times, but he's still a guy that people can relate to."

But Ribeiro has also found that the public's admiration for the character has developed into a delusional understanding of his own personality, and how connected he really is to Carlton. While he played the character for more than six years, the new director asserts that he isn't a mirror of his famous role.

"What's interesting is that my voice is still the same," Ribeiro says. "Ultimately, when people listen to me they're like, 'Dude, you're just like the character.' No. I don't actually think about anything in the same way as Carlton. What makes somebody different? It's their thoughts, it's their beliefs, it's all those things that make somebody different. I don't share any of those things with Carlton. To me, that's what makes me a unique person from the character."

So Ribeiro, with an ingrained understanding that he may never shrug off the typecasting linked to Carlton, a character that he portrayed so well on the nationally-syndicated television series, continues to pursue his passions with humility.

"I'm very much a realist — I'm not a fan of myself," Ribeiro concludes. "I don't blow myself up to think that I'm something different than what [the character] is, even though it might be something where everybody says, 'Wow, this guy represented a generation; he's legendary.' I've heard all sorts of things, but I don't view myself that way. For me, I loathe that attention."


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Personally I will always think of him as Carlton. A really talented actor, dancer and singer, producer and director. But one unforgivable tv character.

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  • 2 months later...
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I'm guessing I shouldn't ask him to do the Carlton dance? Haha. But no, seriously he seems like a great guy and all, but he'll always be Carlton to me. Heck, when Mom turned on the television a few months ago and saw Alfonso on some Game Show Network, she said, "HEY LOOK! IT'S CARLTON!".

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