‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ actress Karyn Parsons comes to NKU
March 1, 2023
In a packed house Monday night in the Student Union ballroom, audience members were able to hear from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actress Karyn Parsons, presented by The Black and Brown Educators of Excellence, African American Student Initiatives and the Black Studies Program as a part of Black History Month.
Parsons, who played Hilary Banks in the show, is an author of three children’s books and a veteran film actress who grew up in Santa Monica, California.
From an early age, Parsons has always been interested in acting. She mentioned a personal story of her first exposure to acting where she received a book that included short plays from a traveling library bus.
As she got older, Parsons sought out any opportunity she could to act. She discussed how her passion led her to pursue other avenues to help her break into the field, such as creating costumes and designing playbills for local theaters in the area.
“I started trying to get involved with local theaters however I could. I designed a playbill at the Santa Monica Playhouse,” Parsons said. “My friend and I worked on costumes, helped with the backdrops and built the stages.”
This passion for the arts continued when she started to hone in more on acting, specifically film and television acting. Parsons would regularly attend workshops to learn more about the craft, learning classical acting methods such as the Stanislavski and Hagen, which uses a realistic approach to acting.
“I started to get more serious, and in this class it was in this workshop, he started reading into Hagen, Stanislavski and learning about the craft,” Parsons said. “It was a lot deeper and a lot more serious, and I found myself really loving it.”
Her dedication to and seriousness about the field was recognized from audience members, including her agent who helped her land the role of Hilary in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The actress was in the show for six years, and continued to act in other television shows and movies.
In the midst of her acting career, Parsons also began to work on other passions like reading and writing. Now, Parsons is the author of three children’s books, including “How High the Moon,” “Flying Free: Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight” and “Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal” which are based on black history. She discussed how her background in acting and love for people helped drive her writing.
Parsons is also the writer behind “Sweet Blackberry,” a video series and content company whose mission is to uplift Black history and prominent black voices.
“I was always interested in storytelling, but I was also very interested in character and people. All of our nuance and complexity is very interesting to me and moves me,” Parsons said.
Afterwards audiences got to learn more about Parsons, where students had the chance to ask questions to the actress, and she gave advice and insight into more about herself.
To wrap up the event David Childs, director of Black Studies, reflected on the importance of the event and encouraged the audience to share ideas among one another.
“Take something you’ve learned back to your organization and implement it. I don’t want us to come to a historic session like this and just “‘it was a good talk,’” Childs said. “The way that it is empowered is that you put it forward and you implement it to your world, ideas to grow and lead in other places.”
To see other upcoming events by the African American Student Initiatives, click here.