On January 24, 1979, Tatyana Marisol Ali was born to Sonia, who was a nurse from Panama, and Sheriff Ali, a retired police officer from Trinidad. At the age of four she started singing and got a taste of fame when she begged her mother to take her to an audition for Sesame Street (1969).
She went on to perform in many productions in her native city, New York, including the Broadway show “Fences”–with James Earl Jones and, later, Billy Dee Williams–and the off-Broadway show “Orfeo del Campo”. When she was seven she appeared on Star Search (1983) and won twice, receiving a four-star rating when she appeared for a second time. At age 11 Tatyana moved from New York to Los Angeles to establish her career and not long afterwords got her breakthrough role–Will Smith’s cousin, “Ashley Banks”, from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990).
While filming “The Fresh Prince” she also had interesting side projects, including guest roles in television shows such as The Cosby Show (1984), The All New Mickey Mouse Club (1989) (aka “The Mickey Mouse Club”), Kyno’s Storytime (1992), Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990) and Foster’s Field Trip (1994).
The public saw her grow on “Fresh Price” from an adorable little girl to a stunning young woman, and she sang in several episodes of the show, most notably her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and an original song, “Make Up Your Mind”. Smith was so impressed with her singing that he asked if she would consider doing it professionally. Tatyana began preparing for her singing career during the last year of the show as she began training her vocal chords, recording demos and publicly performing on television and in various informal live concerts. Her performances on “The Fresh Prince” actually helped her build a fan base that anxiously waited for her first album launch. On August 25 she released her album, “Kiss the Sky”, and her single, “Daydreamin'”. Her single was certified gold within weeks of its release and it quickly rose into the Billboard 100 Hot Singles, where it reached #6 and stayed there for two weeks. She also contributed to major movies such as Crocodile Dundee II (1988) and Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987). Since then, she has had large roles in two movies, Fall Into Darkness (1996) and Fakin’ Da Funk (1997). She has also guest-starred in several sitcoms, including In the House (1995), and had a cameo role in the film Kiss the Girls (1997). She also went to Harvard and graduated with a degree in Anthropology in June 2002. She is now working on her new album, as well as starring in more movies.
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