By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Contributor
For those who only know Daphne Maxwell-Reid as “Aunt Viv” from the smash 1990s hit comedy, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” there’s so much more to behold.
Maxwell-Reid, the wife of acting icon Tim Reid, started her career as a model and became the first African American to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1969.
In addition to the “Fresh Prince,” which featured superstar Will Smith and the late James Avery, Maxwell-Reid appeared on the police drama “Hill Street Blues,” and the comedy hit, “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
She’s published several books on photography but her newest published work is a cookbook titled, “Grace, Soul and Motherwit: A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories.” “It’s about serving love through food,” said Maxwell-Reid, who is also starring in the miniseries, “Jacqueline and Jilly,” which premieres Thursday, Dec. 6, on the Urban Movie Channel.
“Some of my favorite recipes are the ones my mother cooked when we were growing up and then when we came to visit. Each of them has a story and what it means to me and what the person means to me,” she said.
The book contains original recipes that Maxwell-Reid previously wrote on her computer.
She said she gathered them from loved ones and her book features numerous anecdotes and photos of her life growing up, with the majority taking place in the kitchen.
“My mother was very talented in a lot of different things and cooking was her the way she showed love,” Maxwell-Reid said.
“Standing with my mother in the kitchen meant it was time that we shared conversations, what was going on in our lives and what was going on politically. It was my bonding time with my mother and I knew when it was time to serve food, it was going to be a celebration of life.”
Born in Manhattan, Maxwell-Reid now resides in Virginia.
She attended Chicago’s Northwestern University where she was named the school’s first African American homecoming queen. A former model with the elite Eileen Ford Modeling Agency, Maxwell-Reid landed the cover of Vogue Magazine while attending college.
“It was to me just another day of modeling when I was at school and I had kind of a mentor named Amy Green who’d call me and say come to New York and I’d fly to New York,” Maxwell-Reid said.
“She said to wear a red turtle neck and some mascara and lip gloss and sit near the window and that’s what I did, and I don’t think the photographer even used his full roll of film. I did the shoot, flew back to Chicago and later, I’m walking by the newsstand and saw my picture. They didn’t tell me. They didn’t say anything,” she said.
Maxwell-Reid has remained busy since the “Fresh Prince” series ended in 1996 – she was also busy before landing a role on that show, appearing in movies and television shows like “Coach of the Year,” “Protocol,” and “Murder She Wrote.”
Most recently, she’s appeared on UPN’s “Eve,” and BET’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
Along with several other projects and commitments that’s kept her busy, Maxwell-Reid is busy with her cookbook.
“After publishing four books on photography and with people asking me when I would write my memoirs, I decided to get this off of my computer and to combine my memoirs with recipes,” Maxwell-Reid said.
She explained the three key words in the title of her new book, “Grace,” “Soul” and “Motherwit.”
“Grace is hopefully the way I’ve lived my life. With grace and integrity and it’s what you say before a meal,” Maxwell-Reid said.
“Soul is the community from which I sprung and it’s the depth of love and culture that I carry from my ancestors. Motherwit is something you’re either born with or get to learn. It’s innate intelligence that can be couched as common sense so [in the cookbook] I give you tools to have a little motherwit in the kitchen like how to set the table, what to have in your pantry at all times as well as give you the richness of my culture and family.”