Alfonso Ribeiro has clocked nearly three decades in the entertainment industry and he’s far from done yet. The 43-year-old triple threat (singing, dancing, acting) has taken on a fourth expertise: hosting. The childhood star turned reality TV fixture announced in May, during the finale of Dancing with the Stars, that he’d be replacing Tom Bergeron as the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. And the announcement seemed quite befitting, as Ribeiro took the win during the previous season of DWTS. Through the competitive dance series, Ribeiro reclaimed his place in hearts of Americans.
The former Carlton Banks certainly has the moves, but will he have the chops to hold down the longest-running primetime entertainment show in ABC history? We think so.
EBONY caught-up with Ribeiro in the midst of a road trip to discuss his faithful childhood celebrity past, his promising America’s Funniest Home Videos future and why exactly he’s road tripping to begin with.
EBONY: You started as a childhood star; you went on to steal our hearts with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; you killed it on Dancing with the Stars; and you’re going on to host America’s Funniest Home Videos. Can you tell us what has guided your career trajectory?
Alfonso Ribeiro: For me, I’ve been really fortunate that my parents have been very supportive, and they’ve done everything they could to keep my head leveled. Our theory for our career simply was: the more eggs you have in the basket, the more opportunities you have for different things to hatch. So we worked very hard to become a triple threat—a quadruple threat. Continue learning everything. It’s gone from acting to singing to dancing to hosting; it’s important for us to do different things. I’ve been really fortunate, and here I am, now the new host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I’m very excited about that.
EBONY: How does it feel when folks still refer to you as Carlton?
AR: Well (laughs), I would rather that people learn my name and refer to me as an individual, rather than a character that went off the air 19, 20 years ago. But I certainly understand that for a lot of people, they are watching it for the first time in syndication. So I respect it, and I certainly don’t get upset at it, but I would simply rather that people learn my name. I would say: “My momma named me Alfonso, I’d rather that you call me that, too.”
EBONY: How did you land the gig with America’s Funniest Home Videos?
AR: I simply did a screen test for it, but after doing Dancing with the Stars, ABC felt very strongly about the fan base that I’d developed on the show, and felt like it would be a great thing to move it over to AFV. [America’s Funniest Home Videos] obviously felt the same way and gave me the job. It was a long battle. It wasn’t easy to get it. But it was great to have Tom Bergeron supporting me as the person to replace him.
EBONY: We’ve heard you’re on a road trip, and it’s a bit unpredictable. So what makes the road trip that you are currently on unpredictable?
AR: Well, it’s going to be unpredictable because they haven’t told us what we’re doing. But the Chex Mix Deliciously Unpredictable road tour begins at Yellowstone National Park, and we will making our way all the way down to the Grand Canyon. I’m doing this with the Eh Bee Family. They’re a fine family out of Toronto and they post crazy videos all of the time.
People can check out all that we’re doing by going onto their social media and using the hashtag #chexmixroadtrip, and that will allow them to see our videos and pictures that we’re posting. They can also get involved by using the hashtag #chexmixsweepstakes and entering their own videos and photos from their own vacations and having a chance to win one of 20 $250 road trip prize packets. So we want people to get involved by submitting their own [videos] and by checking out what we’re doing.
EBONY: You are a road tripper, a singer and a host. Is there anything that you don’t do?
AR: Well, I’m short so I don’t play a lot of basketball. (Laughs).