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Tatyana Ali on 'Love That Girl,' How She Avoided Being a Child Star Tragedy, and Willow Smith

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Jan 10th 2011 2:00PM
Tatyana Ali, who most of us know as Ashley from 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' has certainly grown up. Now 31, the actress is helming her own show, 'Love That Girl,' which premieres tonight on TV One.

Charming and quick to laughter, Ali is over the moon about her new show and her return to comedy. With a recurring role on 'The Young and the Restless,' Ali hasn't been away from the small screen completely, but she's thrilled to return from whence she came -- that is, the land of the sitcom.

TV Squad spoke with Ali in LA about 'Love That Girl,' how she avoided being a child star tragedy, and what she thinks about Willow Smith.

It's nice to hear that you're returning to TV with your own show. I know you've been on 'Young and the Restless,' but this is different because it's your own.
It's really exciting. I'm excited to see what people think, and it's a lot of fun. Doing 'Fresh Prince,' we laughed so much on set, and just being back in comedy mode is amazing.

Yeah, it looks like you're suppressing a giggle in a scene in the second episode.
[Laughs] Oh, really? We do a lot of ad-libbing on the show and sometimes we go too far. It's a real free-flowing vibe on this show.

Are you a recurring character on 'Y&R?' Or are you finished with that show?
I'm a recurring character. I think I'm going to go back and film a few more episodes at the top of the year.

How has that experience been?
It's been really amazing, especially because it's the first time I've done a soap. The schedule they work with is crazy; I have a lot of respect for people in the soap world. I enjoy working with Bryton McClure (he plays Devon) – he's awesome. Believe it or not, we laugh a lot on that set too! [Laughs] And the fans of 'Y&R' are unreal.

How did 'Love That Girl' come about?
Bentley Kyle Evans created this show – he executive-produced 'Martin' and created 'The Jamie Foxx Show' – and his sister Stacey was in on the process. He wanted to make a female-driven show, which he'd never done before. I really loved the character and it went from there.

What do you enjoy most about playing Tyana?
I love how hard she fights. [Laughs] She definitely takes a lot of crap from her brother, but she dishes it right back. I like how multi-dimensional she is. Sometimes she's strong, and other times she's fragile. There are many different sides to her.

You basically grew up on TV. Looking back, are you glad your life went that way? Do you have any regrets about it?
I was 11 when I started on 'Fresh Prince.' I think growing up in Hollywood was a pretty extraordinary experience. My parents were really good at trying to create a balance, but there was definitely a time where I wished I was around kids my age and had a normal high school experience. What really filled that gap and helped me adjust socially was going to college and taking that time to be in school. I found out who I was outside of acting. It also helped me realize that I wanted to be a performer, that this is what I love.

How do you think you were able to avoid the whole 'child star' trap?
It's kind of sad how, as a society, we take these little kids and applaud for them, watch them sing, dance, and act for us. Then, when they hit hard times, we sometimes revel in that. It's unfair, and we forget that they're just children. That could have been my fate, absolutely; but there was no way my family was going to let that happen. It's all about the kids' support.

Are you still involved in the music world? Or is that on hiatus for now?
I was working with a producer Johnny 'J' Jackson – he actually passed away, so we weren't able to finish that. I want to have more music out, and I love singing, so I'm trying to figure that out right now.

What are your thoughts on Willow Smith?
Oh! I think she's awesome. A little bit before her single came out, I got a chance to hear it. I was so excited. It's addictive and the message is so good. Honestly, she's had style since she was a baby. I'm sure her mom has a lot to do with it, but I have to say his [Will Smith's] kids are very intuitive and brilliant. I love it. I'm a huge Willow Smith fan.

You and the 'Fresh Prince' cast still stay in touch, right?
Oh, yeah. We definitely hang out, keep in touch.

You're eternally loved because of Ashley.
You know what? I know that I'm loved and I'm grateful. LA is different, but when I travel outside of it, half the people who approach me call me 'Ashley.' I get hugs. I love it. Because there's been so much time since we shot it, I can actually fully appreciate it now.

'Love That Girl' premieres on January 10 at 9PM ET on TV One.

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From: Vincent Hill [mailto:vincenthill2001@verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 1:38 AM
To: 'bentster@aol.com'; '3gfilmsinc@gmail.com'; 'jsfprod@mindspring.com'
Cc: 'vincenthill2001@yahoo.com'
Subject: GOOD LUCK!

Love that girl? Hated it!

Some good writing so far as jokes go. (Only) Alphonso McAuley as Latrell, makes the whole show, and has the funniest jokes! I went on the internet and other feels the same way as I do about the show. (Comments were from season 1, Episodes 101 - 104) The consensus are, the show is awful! Also in my research I found your Facebook profile of 4,475 people who support the show. I too would like to see more scripts for black people, I being a person of color, but something a little better than this! And if you check out some of the bad comments what people are saying about the show is the stereotypes. (The black receptionist, and the gay men.) Here's a thought, you could get the four thousand plus supporters from FB to go the each of the sites where there are bad review, to counter act those comments, others who haven't had a chance to see the show won't from preconceived opinions of the show?

Like I said, "Good Luck"! Wish you all the best with this one!

Vincent Hill

From IMDb (Rated a 3.4 out of 10) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1579910/
"I love Bentley Kyle Evans the producer. He has had success in producing shows for Martin Lawrence and Jamie, Foxx and I was hopeful that he would do the same for this show. Tatyana Ali and Phil Morris who plays her father on the show are good actors, have great comedic timing and star quality. Unfortunately the supporting actors they have cast on show are not as good. They all seem to overact, are not endearing and do not seem to have that star quality that will cause them to grow on you at some point except maybe Alphonso McAuley. I have seen him do good work on the movies Pride, Glory Road and Fat Albert. 1 really had high hopes for this show when I first found out about it but unless they swap out some of the supporting cast, I just don't see it making it. I really do hope they get it together."

From YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwXvEdb_mK4
(Not so much the video from this link, but ALL the comments below the video)
"We need all of the black comedy sitcoms that we can get. Since we now have zero~but; we do not need shows that make black people look like idiots or white gay men look like circus clowns."

From YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSQuOZfTlZs&feature=related
"Why do people always say we need to support black sitcoms even if they suck???. Im black and i like shows with substance and thats actually funny nothing in these clips caught my attention and I know I wont be watching this show its time we step out from under that way of thinking . if you want somebody to watch your show make it funny no matter whose in it and people will watch it (just my opinion )"

"OMG This got to be one of the worst shows in TV history. The writers must be stuck in a cave because the people are so unreal, theres no way the writers could be in touch with real people. It was like watching a car wreck I keep watching hoping it would get better."

February 06 2011 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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