Tatyana Ali (1979 – )

Tatyana Marisol Ali
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Tatyana Marisol Ali is an actress and singer best known for her role on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ali was born in North Bellmore, New York, on January 24, 1979, and is of Afro-Panamanian and Indo-Trinidadian heritage, with her ancestry rooted in the Dougla people.

Tatyana Ali began her career singing at the young age of four and began her acting career as a regular on the PBS network show Sesame Street at the age of six. She had a small role in August Wilson’s Fences (1985) on Broadway starring James Earl Jones and an off-Broadway production entitled Orfeo del Campo. Ali was seven years old when she appeared as a contestant on the CBS network television show Star Search and won twice. In 1987, Ali landed the small role of Eddie Murphy’s little sister in the intro movie to his stand-up comedy film Eddie Murphy Raw.

The family moved from New York to Los Angeles, California, in 1990, and she quickly landed the role of Ashley Banks in the NBC television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring musician/actor Will Smith. Ali held the position throughout the series until its end in 1996. Throughout her career, she attended Marymount High School and graduated in 1997. Often, during the show, Ali showcased her singing abilities. In 1998, she released her debut album Kiss the Sky with Sony Records, which included hit singles “Daydreaming” and “Boy You Knock Me Out,” featuring Will Smith. She was just sixteen years old. The single and album sold over 500,000 copies and a certified RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) gold rating within months of its release. Ali decided to focus on her acting career while attending Harvard University in Massachusetts. She graduated in 2002 with a BA in African-American Studies and Government focused on political science.

Ali began a recurring role on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless in 2007, which she held for six years. The same year, she released her second album, The Light. Throughout her career, she had multiple roles on television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Mickey Mouse Club, and numerous movie roles. During the 2008 campaign for President Barack Obama, Ali traveled across the country, heading voter registration drives at college campuses.

Ali received the Living Legacy Award from the Caribbean Heritage Organization in Los Angeles in 2011 and several NAACP Image Awards. In 2014, Ali self-released an extended play (EP) album called Hello.

In January 2023, Ali joined the cast of the ‘Fresh Prince’ reboot- Bel-Air, for its second season as English teacher Ms. Hughes.