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).