Will Smith ‘refused to let RuPaul cameo on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’

RuPaul (L) and Will Smith (R)

The executive producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has claimed that Will Smith thought casting RuPaul in the 90s sitcom would be a ‘bad idea’.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran from 1990 to 1996 over the course of six seasons, and included a hefty load of guest stars.

Jenifer Lewis and Tyra Banks appeared in recurring roles, with guest appearances from the likes of Naomi Campbell, Tom Jones, Chris Rock (pre-Oscars slap) and even Donald Trump.

All those names, and nothing for the 90s queen of cameos, RuPaul?

The Drag Race icon memorably turned up in Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Sister, Sister and Beavis and Butt-head – and according to journalist Thea Glassman, was mooted for a Fresh Prince appearance, too.

In her new book Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson’s Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television, Glassman interviews Fresh Prince executive producer David Steven Simon.

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He said that the idea to feature RuPaul was floated – but didn’t pass muster with Will Smith.

“I remember him saying that would be a really bad idea,” Simon recounts in Glassman’s book. “And I said, ‘No, listen, hear my story–’.”

Simon remembers Smith shooting down the idea, and calling a guest appearance by RuPaul – who was just hitting her stride with her 1993 track, “Supermodel (You Betta Work)” at the time – a “bad idea”.

“‘OK, OK. We don’t need to do it’,” Simon recalled saying.

He then went on to give his own take on why Smith refused the cameo: “The reason he would say no is because of his image. Period. The End.” 

RuPaul survived the snub. He landed his “Supermodel” track at 45 in the Billboard Hot 100, and went on to front his own VH1 talk show in 1996, which ran for two years.

He reinvented himself in the 2000s with the birth of the cultural phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show which has seen no shortage of success for cast and crew since its inception.

Will Smith, meanwhile, went from Fresh Prince to Hollywood A-lister. He won his first Oscar in 2022, but the moment was overshadowed when he slapped Chris Rock for insulting his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson’s Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television is available to order now.

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