Everyone starts somewhere, and for John Ridley — the winner of last night’s Best Screenplay Oscar for his work on 12 Years a Slave — one of those places was, awesomely, the writers’ room of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as he explained in these comments after the ceremony.
“I remember the gentleman who gave me my first job, and to stand there [at the Oscars] with Will Smith a moment later!” Ridley said after the show. “I wrote jokes for that guy. It was a wonderful, wonderful beginning and honestly when I think about that, it’s all the more stunning that somehow I ended up here.
“I love TV, I’m still doing TV. TV matters and if it were not for television, when I was working on Martin, working for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when people were kicking open the doors for people of color, I would not have ended up here. I am so thankful for that time, and I’m so thankful to be here.” [EW]
A quick trip through IMDB and Wikipedia reveals that Ridley was credited with writing two episodes of the show’s fifth season, back in 1994: “Sooooooooul Train,” which featured Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv getting invited to the 25th anniversary of Soul Train, as well as a cameo by Don Cornelius; and “The Client,” which is the back-half of the two-parter about Will trying to manage Ashley’s brief singing career. You probably remember the first-half of that tandem for being the episode where Ashley belted out a song for a music executive named “Gordy Berry,” which might be the most thinly-veiled reference in television history. I mean, GORDY BERRY. How fantastic was that? Who were his other clients? The Five Jacksons and Wonderful Steve?
Anyway, the clip of Ashley singing is below. Insert “The More You Know” GIF here.