Artist Interview: Daphne Maxwell Reid

Posted by Jenni Kirby - January 21 2021





A famed actress and accomplished artist, you may know Daphne Maxwell Reid from the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where she played “Aunt Vivian.” “I was in show business for 30 years and had actually semi-retired when I was asked to audition for Aunt Vivian.” In addition to acting, Daphne has proved to be a successful designer, photographer, and author.


“A lot of my art and content came from my international travels, which I did a lot of when I was acting consistently. I noticed I was particularly drawn to doors.” Daphne’s interest in doors stems from her background in Interior Design and Architecture studies at Northwestern University. However, her knack for photography originates from her father, who was an amateur photographer. “Doors are kind of a metaphor for life. In life, you are constantly opening new doors – they are reminders to be curious, and notice all of life’s beautiful details.”


After some convincing from her friends, Daphne decided to become a photographic artist at 60. Her first solo show was held at Petersburg Area Art League and was a major success. Daphne went on to write and publish several books including Opening Closed Doors: Cuba 2015, which depicts photographs of doors and memoirs from her travels throughout Cuba. Daphne has published three other books, including her cookbook and memoir Grace + Soul & Motherwit. The cookbook contains stories from Daphne’s childhood and career, and each recipe story has a story that coincides.


Though Daphne intended to capture new content from a trip to West Africa in March, she had to remain stateside. She has since shifted her focus to creating face masks, including a special fabric designed for CultureWorks Richmond. The first 100 donors to make a new gift of $50 or more will receive one of Daphne’s hand-stitched masks. Other masks are available on her website,


Daphne says what she appreciates the most is everything she has learned along her journeys. “Something my husband taught me that applies to everything I do, is: don’t let the successes go to your head, and don’t let the failures go to your heart.”