Tatyana Ali’s new sitcom, Love That Girl! is the first chance The Fresh Prince of Bel Air alum has had the opportunity to play an adult character on a regular series in primetime television. And the 31-year old is also stretching her wings behind the scenes— she's a producer of the show. VIBE caught up with Tatyana to discus Love That Girl!, advice she got from Will Smith, and what she thinks of Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair. —Ronke Idowu Reeves
VIBE: While watching Love That Girl! and seeing you as Tyana Jones, I don’t think of Ashley Banks at all. What are the differences between the two characters?
Tatyana Ali: Oh really? Thank you! Well, they are totally two different people. Ashley was reserved and needed guidance to set her free. Tyanna’s is the exact opposite she needs people to hold her back. Whatever it is that she thinks she’s after, she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. There’s courage in her that I admire and I wish I had myself.
How involved were you with creating the character of Tyana, she’s a young divorcee and very independent.
All of [show creator] Bentley [Kyle Evans', and executive producer] other series had male leads—Martin, Jamie Foxx, but he wanted this one to be female driven show. That’s what immediately attracted me to the show. So, he came to me with the pilot script already written. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a character like Tyana. She’s well-rounded, dynamic and a little bit of everything. She’s multidimensional those characters are far and few in between so I jumped at the chance to play her.
What can viewers expect to see this season on Love That Girl!
There’s gonna be everything from clowns to stripper poles. It’s a lot [laughs.] Tyanna’s trying to find herself and we have a lot of funny dating episode. There’s a lot of comedy in it but a lot of real heart and emotion too.
Will Smith began as the star of Fresh Prince and ended up being a 'Big Willie' producer of the show. Now you're wearing both star and producer hats on Love That Girl! What’s that like?
I’m going thru a lot of stuff that I saw Will go thru, the worry and the exhaustion. I didn’t understand it when I was little but now I totally get it. It’s a lot to take on but I’ve been prepared for it. Hopefully the show will be on for a long time if it means something to people. So it matters what we say, what we do and the stories that we are telling. I put in a call to Will while we were shooting because there’s a lot of responsibility involved.