Hollywood star Will Smith landed his career-defining role as Will in the iconic 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With six seasons of pure entertainment, the show ended up being listed in journalist Thea Glassman’s book released this year. In Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson’s Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television, a segment disclosed that Smith was not convinced by the idea of notable Drag personality RuPaul guest starring in his show.
Executive producer David Steven Simon recalled his conversation with Will Smith, back when RuPaul was gaining popularity in the music industry. Simon confirmed that Smith was adamant about not getting RuPaul cast, even after the former tried to persuade him.
Will Smith voted against Drag Queen RuPaul’s cameo
As Thea Glassman’s 2023 book, Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson’s Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television stated, RuPaul Charles ideally would have been featured in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air if Will Smith was not totally against it. Producer David Steven Simon initially brainstormed show ideas with the Academy Award winner when the idea of the 63-year-old drag queen’s cameo erupted.
Simultaneously, Smith did not buy the idea. In the book, Simon was quoted as,
“I remember him saying that would be a really bad idea. And I said, ‘No, listen, hear my story.”
But Smith’s persistent pushback ultimately led to Simon complying, scrapping the Queen of Drag’s cameo on the show. The primary reason behind the 55-year-old actor rejecting the idea was his image. Hence, Simon added,
“I remember him saying that would be a really bad idea,” Simon recalls in the book. “And I said, ‘No, listen, hear my story.”
Anyhow, RuPaul eventually got his share of stardom by pioneering drag representation on TV with the 27-time Emmy-winning show, RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2009. Whereas, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired until May 1996, followed by a 30-year reunion in 2020. Two years before Will Smith would tarnish his well-preserved “image” by slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
The unspoken rift between two rising stars
In the ’90s, Smith and Charles both were in their early careers, steadily rising in the entertainment sphere. While Smith’s career arc was well within the norms, RuPaul had to face many setbacks because of his form of self-expression. There was much stigma associated with drag performers back then. RuPaul’s 1998 talk show on VH1 was scrapped after a two-year run, while already gaining popularity for his hit number, Supermodel (You Better Work).
Smith was too wary of his image, not open to the idea of a drag queen guest starring alongside him. Regardless, RuPaul did cameos in 1994’s Sister, Sister, 1996’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and 1993’s Walker, Texas Ranger.
There has been no comment on the matter from the Hollywood star or his representatives. Thus, his silence could be presumed to be the truth. Whereas, RuPaul’s Drag Race has gained significant momentum in the TV sphere, with its 16th season rolling in 2024.