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Stars Making a Social Impact: How Daphne Maxwell Reid of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Is Helping To Change Our World


“I would start a movement to bring integrity back into our lives. There seems to have been a cancellation of the concept in the quest for success.”


I had the pleasure to interview Daphne Maxwell Reid. Born in Manhattan, Daphne attended Chicago’s Northwestern University where she was named their first African-American homecoming queen. Outside of being the beloved Aunt Viv from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Daphne has published five photography books and calendars; and a cookbook, “Grace, Soul & Motherwit.” She is a fashion designer (Daphne Style), and a spokesperson for Virginia State University.


Thank you so much for joining us Daphne! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

I was raised in a loving family in the Amsterdam Housing Projects in Manhattan, attended public schools in New York and ultimately the Bronx High School of Science, where I served as the Senior Class President. Received a National Merit Scholarship, attended Northwestern University where I graduated with a BA in Interior Design and Architecture, and an MRS degree. Became Northwestern University’s first Black Homecoming Queen (1967). Modeled through Eileen Ford Modeling Agency while attending Northwestern, was the first African American woman on the cover of Glamour Magazine (1969).

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

The most interesting story was my first date with my husband, Tim Reid.

What would you advise to someone who wants to emulate your career?

What my husband advised me; “Don’t let the successes go to your head, nor the failures go to your heart”.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My mother had the most profound effect on my life. She showed me by example what it means to live a life of purpose with integrity.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Are you working on any meaningful or exciting non profit projects?

I have consistently worked with non-profit organizations, primarily in the arts and humanities fields, including, Virginians For the Arts, Virginia Humanities, and Petersburg Area Art League. On the benevolent side, I am a board member of the wordwide organization for children called ChildFund. In the educational arena, I was on the Board of Visitors of Virginia State Universiity, and the Petersburg Library Board that helped build a new library in the City of Petersburg, Virginia.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I have been approached by many young people who have told me that I have influenced the choices they have made and helped them succeed in their chosen fields.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I seem to have gotten all the information I needed.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement to bring integrity back into our lives. There seems to have been a cancellation of the concept in the quest for success.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Be mindful of what you ask for; because you are going to get it. It may not arrive as what you had in mind, but figure out how to deal with it, good, or bad.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Michelle Obama. I would like to spend some time praising her and absorbing her wonderful spirit!