Childhood & Early Life
Tatyana Ali was born on January 24, 1979 in North Bellmore, New York. She is the eldest daughter of Sheriff, a retired police officer, and Sonia Ali, a nurse. While her mother is from Panama, and her father is an East Indian Muslim from Trinidad. Her two younger sisters are Anastacia and Kimberly.
She started singing when she was only four, and soon got a taste of fame. At the age of six, she begged her mother to take her to an audition for the TV series ‘Sesame Street.’
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In 1985, when she was six, Tatyana Ali started her acting career as a child performer in ‘Sesame Street’, an American educational children's television series that combined live action, sketch comedy, animation, and puppetry. She also appeared in a musical number with Herbie Hancock, an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor.
At the beginning of her career, she also appeared twice on ‘Star Search’, an American television show produced by T.P.E./Rysher Entertainment.
In 1990, she got her breakthrough role as Ashley Banks in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, an American sitcom, originally aired on NBC. The series ran for six seasons from 1990 to 1996, and aired 148 episodes. The show starred Will Smith.
Tatyana displayed her musical ability by singing on various episodes of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. She even sang a heavily modified version of Aretha Franklin's ‘Respect’, and the original song ‘Make Up Your Mind’ produced by Robert Jerald of N'Spyre Music Productions. In fact, Will Smith suggested her to seriously consider pursuing a musical career as well.
In the final season of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ in 1996, she started preparing herself for her musical debut, and released her first studio album ‘Kiss the Sky’, in August 1998. The album included the Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit ‘Daydreamin', the hit single ‘Boy You Knock Me Out’, and the ballad ‘Everytime’.
Will Smith also supported her passion for music and she proceeded to appear in his album ‘Willennium’ for the track ‘Who Am I’ with MC Lyte.
Along with her musical career, she continued with her acting and took up roles in films. She worked with recognized film directors like Takeshi Kitano in ‘Brother’, a 2000 American-British-Japanese film.
She also continued her studies along with her entertainment career. She attended Harvard University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in American studies and government in 2002.
In 2005, she completed work on the film ‘Glory Road’, an American sports drama film directed by James Gartner. She then starred in the music video for Nick Cannon and Anthony Hamilton's ‘Can I Live?’ as Cannon's mother.
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In 2005, she performed the title song, ‘Sunny Valentine’ with Terrence Quaites for the indie film, ‘Rockin' Meera’, directed by Param Gill.
In 2008, she was featured on the song ‘Yes We Can’, a will.i.am project to support Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She was also featured in the music video that gained coverage on the ‘What the Buzz" segment of ABC's World News Now.
In 2009 and 2010, she produced the BET web show ‘Buppies’ in which she also starred as Quinci Allen. Set in the glamorous world of the Black Hollywood, the show chronicled the relationship dramas of a group of inseparable friends as they navigate the tricky terrain of L.A.'s young black power elite. The web series was the first of its kind to feature an African-American principal cast.
She made quite a few appearances on the CBS soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ as Roxanne, a recurring character. It was an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. She has also appeared in the show, ‘Love That Girl!’ as Tyana, aired on TV One. It was an American sitcom that debuted in January 2010.
She starred in ‘Nora's Hair Salon’, a 2004 independent comedy-drama film, directed by Jerry LaMothe. In 2008, she featured in its the sequel ‘Nora's Hair Salon 2: A Cut Above’, a comedy-drama film written by Chanel Capra and Jill Maxcy.
In 2012, she appeared as a guest on ‘The Eric Andre Show’. In 2013, she starred as Maya, in the BET comedy, ‘Second Generation Wayans’. In 2014, she released a new EP, ‘Hello’ with the first single ‘Wait For It’, which she had performed at The Arsenio Hall Show in February 2014.
As an actress, Tatyana Ali is best known for her appearance as Ashley Banks on the NBC sitcom ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ The super-hit show was nominated for several awards, winning quite a few of them.
Her debut album ‘Kiss the Sky’ (1998) peaked at number 106 on the Billboard 200 and number 47 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album was certified Gold in 1999.
The song ‘Boy You Knock Me Out’, featuring Will Smith, which peaked at No. 3 is her biggest hit to date. The single ‘Everytime’, which was her third top 20 hit in the UK, peaked at No. 20.
In late 1990s, Tatyana Ali dated actor Jonathan Brandis for a brief period.
In March 2016, she revealed that she was engaged to Vaughn Rasberry, assistant professor of English at Stanford University, and they were expecting their first child. The couple married on July 17, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.Their son, Edward Aszard Rasberry was born on September 16, 2016.