Fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996) will fondly remember the name, Karyn Parsons, as she is best known for playing the role of Will Smith‘s cousin, Hilary Banks in the show. The 5 feet 7 inches (1.7 m) tall actress and comedian, who is an alumnus of Santa Monica High School, is also known for appearing in the comedies Major Payne (1995) and The Ladies Man (2000). Ms. Parsons has since moved to create her own production company as she has mostly stepped back from on-screen roles. Read on to find out more about her company and personal life.
Karyn Parsons was born to Louise and Kenneth B. Parsons on the 8th of October, 1966, in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is African American while her father is a white American of Welsh descent.
Parsons attended Santa Monica High School, the same school that produced actors like Robert Downey, Jr., Ryan Hurst, and Charlie Sheen, among others. After completing high school, she aspired to become an actress. Karyn went on to enroll at an acting class before landing her first ever role in an episode of the NBC drama series, The Bronx Zoo in 1987. The following year, she appeared in episodes of the crime drama series Hunter and the anthology series CBS Summer Playhouse before going ahead to make her film acting debut in the horror film Death Spa (1989).
In 1990, Karyn Parson caught her big break as she was cast to play the role of Hilary Banks, alongside Will Smith, James Avery, and Alfonso Ribeiro in the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996). While holding her role on the show, Parsons starred in a couple of films, comedies Class Act (1992) and Major Payne (1995). Following the cancellation of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Parsons took up the lead role of Margot Hines in the sitcom Lush Life (1996) which she co-wrote, co-created, and co-produced. But despite the high hopes she had in the show, it was canceled after just four episodes.
Karyn Parsons went on to appear in the film Mixing Nia (1998) and The Ladies Man (2000) before landing the main role of Toni in the sitcom The Job (2001-02) alongside Denis Leary.
Karyn Parsons Family – Husband, Children
Parsons is currently in her second marriage. Her first marriage was in 1987, at the young age of 21, to the then 37-year-old actor, Randy Brooks, who is best known for his role as Detective Holdaway in the Quentin Tarantino written and directed hit movie, Reservoir Dogs (1992) and in the soap opera The Young and the Restless. The marriage lasted for three years before ending in divorce in 1990.
The end of Parsons first marriage coincided with the time she began appearing on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Her time on the show, as well as that of the other shows she took on, proved to be a good distraction for her as she remained single for about 13 years, before giving marriage another try. This time, it was director, producer and screenwriter Alexandre Rockwell, who was also looking to give marriage another try following his divorce from actress and former teen model Jennifer Beals in 1996.
Parsons and Rockwell tied the knot on the 8th of February, 2003 before going ahead to bring in two children to the world; a daughter named Lana who was born on the 8th of June, 2003, and a son named Nico who was born on the 11th of April, 2007.
As mentioned above, Karyn Parsons is of mixed ethnicity, thanks to her father, Kenneth B. Parsons, who is from the city of Butte in Montana and is also of Welsh descent, and her mother, Louise Parsons, a Librarian who once worked at the Black Resource Library, she is an African American from the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Nothing more is known about them other than that their union produced the beautiful Parsons.
Where is She Now?
Following the end of the show The Job in 2002, Karyn Parsons took a step back from acting to create the non-profit company, Sweet Blackberry, whose aim is to bring to light, through children-friendly animations, the little-known stories of unsung African American heroes.
As of 2018, Sweet Blackberry has produced three illustrated short stories; The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown, Garrett’s Gift, and Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story, which were all respectively narrated by Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, and Chris Rock. In January 2018, the company released its fourth animation, The Bessie Coleman Story, which is about the first Black woman to receive her pilot’s license.