Daphne Maxwell Reid
Daphne Maxwell Reid (Courtesy photo)

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 “Fresh Prince,” which starred 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 also published several books on photography and now, her latest is a cookbook, “Grace, Soul and Motherwit: A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories.”

“It’s about serving love through food,” Maxwell-Reid told the Baltimore Times. “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.”

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,” she 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,” she said. “She said to wear a red turtleneck 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.”

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 such as “Coach of the Year,” “Protocol” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Most recently, she appeared on UPN’s “Eve” and BET’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

Along with several other projects and commitments, Maxwell Reid has been 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,” she 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,” she said. “With grace and integrity and it’s what you say before a meal. 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.”

To purchase Maxwell Reid’s new book, go to daphnemaxwellreid.com.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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