Interesting People Alfonso Ribeiro Photo By Alfonso Ribeiro Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Published on November 16th, 2009 | by Yellow Magpie

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Alfonso Ribeiro: ‘Carlton Banks’ The All Dancing, All Singing Child Prodigy

Alfonso Ribeiro Photo By Alfonso Ribeiro Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for playing Carlton Banks in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, was hailed as a child prodigy. Before Ribeiro even reached teenage years, he had starred in a Broadway musical,PBS television specials, and was even cast in a successful television series.

Alfonso Ribeiro And The Fresh Prince Of Belair Cast


Trinidad and Tobago Roots

The son of Michael and Joy Ribeiro, Alfonso Lincoln Ribeiro was born in New York City, on September 21, 1971. His family were originally from Trinidad and Tobago but emigrated to America. Alfonso is the grandson of Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) a Calypsonian of great repute.

Alfonso Ribeiro’s Early Career

At the tender age of eight, Alfonso Ribeiro’s career took off when he starred in the 1983 Broadway musical, ‘Tap Dance Kid’. Before being cast in Tap Dance Kid Ribeiro had never properly danced before. ‘I had no tap dance ability and they chose my to do Tap Dance Kid on my singing and acting ability,’ he admitted in an interview with Ebony Jet. He quickly learned how to tap dance after being taught by the musical’s production team.

He also starred in a musical commercial for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

His prodigious talent did not go unnoticed and was spotted by singer Michael Jackson. He was subsequently cast alongside Jackson in a Pepsi Commercial.

Musical Career

At aged ten Alfonso Ribeiro started a promising musical career. He released four singles ‘Dance Baby’, ‘Not Too Young’, ‘Time Bomb’ and ‘Sneak Away With Me’. After his sojourn in music he was cast in the 1982 series ‘Silver Spoons’ playing the role of Alfonso Spears from 1984 to 1987. In 1985, while in Silver Spoons, Ribeiro released “Breakin’ and Poppin‘” an instructional dance set.

Ribeiro attended California State University, Los Angeles.

Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

A television sit-com was to change Alfonso Ribeiro’s career. In 1990 he was cast as Carlton Banks in a pilot for what was to become one of the biggest television series of the 90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The series would continue for six successful seasons producing 148 episodes in total. Though largely a comedy, Fresh Prince on occasion dealt with serious issue such as drug abuse, racial identity, peer pressure and class divide.

Carlton was a highly intelligent but at time quite pompous character with a penchant for singing and dancing in an inappropriate manner at inappropriate times.

In essentially what was a vehicle designed to launch Will Smith’s career, Ribeiro would often steal the limelight as arguably the most talented member of the cast playing the most interesting character.

Falling Out And Will Smith

Although the filming of ‘The Fresh Prince’ is affectionately remembered by most of the crew, Janice Huppert, who played the first Vivian Banks in the series, has a very different perspective. Her book, Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom, claims that Will Smith suppressed actors that were more talented than him on the series making sure that no one outshone him.

Here is a choice excerpt:

Smith had people around him who made sure no one outshone him. I was happy to see Don Cheadle become the quality actor that he is, and often wondered how he made it past one episode, as Hilary’s boyfriend, being such a fierce actor. No one could be on ‘The Tonight Show’, that first season, except Will. And I mean no one.’

Alfonso Ribeiro Photo By Benjamin Reed Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Alfonso Ribeiro Photo By Benjamin Reed Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Racing Fan

An avid race car driver, Alfonso Ribeiro is twice winner of the Long Beach Toyota Pro/Celebrity Challenge winning in 1994 and 1995. The rules were altered to prevent it becoming uncompetitive after he had won it for the second time, so concerned were the competition’s organisers by Ribeiro’s dominance. Under the new rules past winners must race as professionals and give celebrities a 30 second advantage.

Previous celebrity winners include Gene Hackman, Ted Nugent, Keanu Reeves and Josh Brolin.

Celebrity Duets and TV Presenter

Alfonso Ribeiro was the winner of the 2006 Celebrity Duets beating off Lucy Lawless and Hal Sparks in the final.

Ribeiro has enjoyed success as a television presenter hosting the programme ‘Your Big Break’. He currently hosts GSN’s Catch-21 quiz show and GSN’s Live morning show.

Alfonso Ribeiro With Former Wife Robin Stapler Photo By The 1 Second Film Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Alfonso Ribeiro With Former Wife Robin Stapler Photo By The 1 Second Film Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Speaking to Hollywood TV, Ribeiro spoke about the election of US President Barack Obama.’The reality is that the day after he was elected we woke up in a new country and it is a different country. It is a different country to the rest of the world it is a different country that we are living in and it means that anything is possible. Hopefully, he is able to do all that he is trying to do and we will see what happens. It was a proud day for the country.’

Further Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s Alfonso Ribeiro Quotes: Carlton Talks to find out what Alfonso thinks about Michael Jackson and being Carlton Banks.

Alfonso Ribeiro’s ‘Breakin’ and Poppin’ is available from Amazon.

For those who wish to watch The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, the complete first four seasons are available here on DVD from Amazon.

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom you can access The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom here:

Amazon.ca
For those living in Canada you can obtain The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom from here.

Amazon.de
For Germany: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom.

Amazon.fr
For France: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom.


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2 Responses to Alfonso Ribeiro: ‘Carlton Banks’ The All Dancing, All Singing Child Prodigy

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