As Justin Bieber continues to unravel around the globe at age 19, former child star Tatyana Ali, who starred on Fresh Prince of Bel Air from 1990-1996, is stepping up to offer her tried-and-true tips for transitioning from showbiz kid to functioning adult.
“Don’t listen to the BS,” Tatyana, 34, who stars on the BET sitcom Second Generation Wayans, tells me. “Ignore haters as much as possible, and be true to yourself. Everyone else will eventually follow.”
She adds, “Spend time with the family and friends who ground you and love you for real.”
Tatyana certainly knows about how to stay sane after growing up in the spotlight. She was on the hit show from age 11-17.
How did she do it?
“I survived really well,” she says. “I put out an album after Fresh Prince called Kiss the Sky. It did well, and I toured all over the world. Then I took some time off to go to Harvard. I had an intensely wonderful experience there. Since graduating, I’ve been acting, producing and singing. It’s been amazing!”
Still, making the change wasn’t easy.
“Transitioning from a child actor to a grown-up one was challenging, especially because I left to get my education,” she says. “I got through it by creating my own projects. I couldn’t keep sitting around waiting for someone to allow me to do what I love. I had to find a way to make it happen for myself. And I did.”
Nowadays, she doesn’t allow her bright past to overshadow her future.
“There’s much more I still have to do, and I can feel it all unfolding. I’m going to be performing well into my 80s, God willing. This is how I contribute. It’s what I love.”
For now, she’s enjoying life on Second Generation Wayans. She recently debuted her first song in ten years, Almost Love, on the sitcom.
“I love it! I love how excited people are about it. It’s fun to see everyone tweeting while the episodes air. We put a lot of hard work and creativity into it, and I’m proud to see that it’s resonating.”
Hm, what happened the last time she saw her Fresh Prince of Bel Air co-star Will Smith?
“The last time I saw Will was too long ago, actually. We spoke on the phone more recently. He’s my family. I love him.”
Catch Tatyana on the season finale of Second Generation Wayans, which airs tonight at 10:30pm ET on BET.
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