The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was notable for many reasons. It was the show that introduced the world to the crispness of Will Smith and made him the beloved actor he is to the rest of the world today. It also gave us the iconic dance of Carlton Banks as well as Uncle Phil.
One other major gift of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is Tatyana M. Ali, who played Ashley Banks on the beloved show. A graduate of Harvard, Ali has been an actress since 1985 and has made a name for herself in the acting industry. All these achievements would however not have been possible without the support of her parents who encouraged her to try out for auditions at a very young age.
A Look At Tatyana Ali’s Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Religious Background
Tatyana Ali is a native of New York and was born on the 24th of January 1979 in North Bellmore. She is the daughter of immigrant parents namely Sheriff and Sonia Ali. Her father is an East Indian Muslim while her mother is a Panamanian Catholic who is of Afro-Trinidadian ethnicity. It, therefore, means that the actress has Dougla ethnicity; this refers to a person who is of mixed Indian and African descent.
Both Sheriff and Sonia originally immigrated to America in their teens in the search of the proverbial better life. Sonia eventually went on to become a nurse while Sheriff qualified as a detective. These two eventually crossed parts at some point and they got married. Their union was blessed with three daughters namely Tatyana, Kimberly as well as Anastacia. The couple made sure that they instilled the right values in their daughters such as being polite and considerate. They also gave then a free hand with regards to the issue of religion by making their home a multi-religious one.
How Her Family Fueled her Rise as a Singer and Actress
All the efforts by Tatyana Ali’s parents resulted in daughters who had a strong independent identity and Tatyana eventually went on to attend the prestigious Harvard University. There, she studied African-American studies and Government and graduated in 2002. Tatyana remains quite close to her family members till this very date. She often posts family pictures with her parents online. She has also used her social media accounts to wish her sisters a happy birthday on several occasions. Such love and appreciation do not come as a surprise given the impact that her parents made on her and how they helped her to achieve fame.
Tatyana began singing at the age of 4 and her mom immediately noticed her passion. She encouraged her to sign up for an audition on the show, Sesame Street, and her insistence paid off when the six-year-old Tatyana landed a part on the show. From Sesame Street, Tatyana Ali would go on to land roles in other television shows, such as A Man Called Hawk, The Cosby Show, Star Search, and a TV Movie, Wally and the Valentines.
She eventually landed her a role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where she got her breakthrough and hit national fame. Since then, Ali has also made waves as a singer and has an album, Kiss The Sky as well as an EP, Hello, to her name.
Is Tatyana Ali Related to Muhammad Ali ?
For several years, many people have speculated that Tatyana Ali might be the daughter of famed boxer and civil rights icon, Muhammad Ali. They point to the similarity in surnames as well as the fact that the great boxer was notorious for the secret children that he fathered outside of his four marriages. Many have therefore concluded that the actress must be one of those secret daughters.
The fact, however, remains that this is not true and there is no blood relationship between the actress and the now-deceased legendary boxer. She is neither one of his recognized children nor among the secret ones. Muhammad Ali, who is one of the most celebrated sports figures of all times, was married four times and officially had nine children namely Jamillah, Maryum, Rasheda, Muhammad Jr, Miya, Khaliah, Hana, Laila, and Asaad.
The late boxer also faced a series of fatherhood claims with regard to several others. One of them was Kiiursten Mensah Ali, who claims that he had a long affair with her mother, Barbara. She also claimed that a DNA test confirmed that the boxer was her father and that he even agreed for his name to be put on her birth certificate.
Meet Her Husband – Professor Vaughn Rasberry
Tatyana Ali is happily married to an accomplished scholar and college professor known as Vaughn Rasberry. Vaughn Rasberry is an assistant professor of English at Stanford University. He obtained his B.A. from Howard University in 2000 and subsequently got his masters and doctorate from the University of Chicago.
Vaughn is now a faculty member at Stanford and his research interest primarily lies in African-American studies, African diaspora literature, postcolonial theory, etc. He has published several essays. He also has a book titled Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination. The book has received several awards including the 2017 American book award from the Before Columbus Foundation and 2017 Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association. Vaughn has also scored several prestigious fellowships including Fulbright Scholar.
Tatyana Met Vaughn Via an Online Dating Site
Tatyana and Vaughn first met via the dating site, eHarmony, in 2014. Things took off slowly and they exchanged letters for several months before chatting on Skype. The pair later met up in real life and things moved quickly from this juncture. They got engaged in March 2016; Vaughn had proposed while it was just the two of them hiking in one of Ali’s favorite places, Yosemite. They also revealed that they were expecting their first child that same month.
This wonderful development spurred them to delve headlong into wedding plans and they eventually tied the knot on the 17th of July 2016 in Beverly Hills. The intimate ceremony was held in the daytime and featured their closest friends and family, numbering a little over a hundred. The bride wore a silk Amsale gown and she and her groom exchanged vows that they had penned themselves. The wedding ceremony paid homage to Tatyana’s roots by featuring tropical house music and Afropunk. There was also a tiered cake as the couple couldn’t agree on one flavor, Tatyana wanted chocolate while her man favored vanilla.
Raising her Two Sons with the Right Kind of Values
Tatyana and Vaughn have been together for about four years now and their union is going strong. The couple is now the proud parents of two sons namely Edward Aszard (born in September 2016) and Alejandro (born on the 15th of August 2019) Tatyana has a laid-back parenting style but she strides to inculcate in her children, the same values with which she was raised.
The actress has equally disclosed her plans to stick to the multi-religious background that her parents gave her. According to her, her parents’ lifestyle taught her that there was more than one way of worshipping God. As such, she is prepared to let her children experience all these ways be it Jewish or Catholic or Muslim.
Another legacy that the actress hopes to pass on to her kids is a strong identity that will help them overcome any racial prejudices they might face. According to Tatyana, her brown skin and curly hair fetched her some unsavory names while she was growing up and she is well aware of the fact that her children might face something similar one day.
She is therefore focused on training them in such a way that they can be able to deal with it; namely by recognizing the truth of who they are and knowing that home is a place where they can feel totally safe. One of the practical steps that the actress is taking in this regard is by passing down her culture as well as mother tongue, the Spanish language, to her kids.