Tatyana Ali On the Pressures of Being the Star of a TV Show

Half-Panamanian actress Tatyana Ali rose to fame as the loveable Ashley Banks on the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but it wasn't until she landed a lead role on the TV one show, Love that Girl! that Ali understood the pressure that comes with being the star of a TV show. "There’s a whole other set of responsibilities and pressure that comes with being the star of the show," says Ali, who adds that she calls her former Fresh Prince co-star Will Smith for advice. Check out the rest of our interview with Tatyana. Love that Girl! premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on TV One. 

Tell us about your character on Love That Girl!

Tyana Jones is really different from any other character I’ve played. She’s really vain {Laughs} and really neurotic—but the thing that I love about her is that she never steps down from a fight. She’s willing to risk everything to live the life of her dreams.

Why do you personally love about the show?

The cool thing about the show is that it has an adult vibe to it because she’s dating and she’s going through really serious things, but then there’s also this real family element that feels warm like a sitcom. We’re in our third season right now and the writing is really great. We have a really interesting cliffhanger – the whole season ends with a cliffhanger that I think people will like.

I have a production company with my sister Anastasia and we’re partnering on the show so I’m wearing a lot of different hats that I haven’t worn before. But I realized that I can do it. It’s so much fun! I think even working as a producer on the show has made me a better actress and a performer because I see the show—the whole animal—in so many different ways now.

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How is filming this sitcom different from your time as a cast member on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

It’s totally different. This show is very much an ensemble, but there’s a whole other set of responsibilities and pressure that comes with being the star of the show, so much so that I have to give Mr. Smith, my mentor, a call and say ‘‘This is what I’m experiencing and I just couldn’t think of anybody else who would be able to help me out or explain it to me better than he can. He did an amazing job!

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Reporting by Amaris Castillo