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The Fresh Prince of Resolution

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

How Personality plays a larger role than you may think when it comes to CONFLICT.

Recently, it was announced that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was airing a reunion show. I’d enjoyed watching that show when it aired, in part because of Will Smith’s charismatic talent and in part because there weren't many shows, outside of The Cosby’s, that represented affluent Black life. I remember eyebrows were raised and “Oops” were heard round the block when Season 3 opened to reveal that the original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert, had been unceremoniously replaced.

What happened?

Rumors swirled, of course, as rumors do but on the advent of the reunion show, Will and Janet, finally sat down together after 30 years to bring clarity to the causes of the feud and mend fences.

As I watched, it struck me how much Personality had played into the conflict. And because neither Will nor Janet seemed aware of their personality styles, conflict was inevitable.

Let’s start with Will Smith. Will is a high I with moderate S. His gregarious, comical, center-spotlight characteristics fit right in line with being an (I)nfluencer. His secondary style is (S)upporter, reflected in the way he cares about others- supporting them as a team and making sure everyone is happy and satisfied. Will doesn’t just want to be center spotlight, he is wired to seek it. Influencers, or I’s, are what I call the Sparkle People because others are drawn to their natural charisma and vibrant personality. They are used to being the center of attention and love inspiring others with optimism and enthusiasm. Since the dominant fear of the I-style is rejection, I’s can create situations that sabotage themselves to avoid this fear. We see that played out in Will’s early days on set. He noted his deep need for Janet’s approval and when he didn’t receive it, his antics escalated which continued to drive her away. Will states that as a child he acted as the family entertainer in hopes of lightening his Dad’s angry moods, and navigating him away from abusing his mom. We see the same dynamic played out with Will’s sitcom family, only Janet (parental figure) was not appeased and her disapproval further fueled his sense of rejection. In turn he used his I superpower (Promoter) in retaliation against her, and their relationship came crashing down.

But Will wasn’t the only one at fault here. Janet was fully operating in her C/D style. C’s or Compliant styles are wired to be perfectionists. They view things as right/wrong, black/white with little to no shades of gray. Janet repeatedly refers to her career prior to The Fresh Prince, the high standards she’d adhered to in the theatrical arena, and how she’d expected no less on TFP set. Her secondary D(ominant) style was evident in her outspoken critique of Will and her unwillingness to back down.

Will today seems to have gained so much more self-awareness. He owned his part of the conflict, his emotionalism displayed clearly lent to the tenderheartedness of an I/S. The managed part of his I-style was clear when he did not default to a ‘me, me, me’ stance, but allowed Janet to have her say and then validated her. I believe the Emotionally Intelligent way in which he handled the situation was what allowed for resolution.

Understanding Personality can help navigate emotional landmines that lie all around us, and help us understand why we do what we do, why we’re drawn to what we’re drawn to, why we avoid what we avoid.

Check out the full episode below:

And if you’d like more information on the Power of Personality or to get your assessment, click here.


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