Karyn Parsons is one of those actors that absolutely thrived in the 90s due to the fact that her characters tended to be very stylish, had the kind of attitude that said “look at me and love me” and was the epitome of a valley girl when it came to the shows she starred on. Most people will likely remember her best from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air since this is where she really got rolling with her career despite the the fact that she debuted in the late 80s and the Fresh Prince started up in 1990. Her fame on the show began to translate to greater fame in the roles she took and the movies that she appeared in in later years as Hilary Banks was the name that made people stand up and pay attention to her. She did have a definite sense of style when she played the character though this became slightly toned down as she took on other roles that weren’t quite as flamboyant as Hilary.
One thing about Hilary is that if not for Parsons’ ambition and obvious dedication to her work people might have taken her as a rather vapid and superficial person. There wasn’t a lot of depth to Hilary, at least not any that could be seen all the time. For the most part she was a self-centered rich girl that didn’t think much about others and simply assumed the world was there to serve her. It might be assumed that she allowed the life of luxury that her family enjoyed to change her but in a flashback episode that showed the kids as much younger it was revealed that Hilary was always pretty superficial and didn’t really have much humility to her at all. There were moments when she seemed to be capable of human emotions that didn’t simply serve her own interests, but overall Hilary was kind of a ditz and didn’t really take the needs of other into account unless she felt like it, which was rarely. So long as her needs were being met and she was happy things were good.
In Major Payne she was the school nurse that was in charge of the welfare of the children and as such she was constantly at odds with the main character of the story, Major Payne. His methods drove her to confront him more than once and her methods simply confused him, until she used her womanly charms to her advantage and duped him into playing her game and being nicer to the boys. This was a big switch from playing Hilary Banks since it made her look far easier to relate to and allowed Karyn to show a side of herself that Hilary just didn’t possess. In this film she got to show that she can act like a caring person and put the needs of others ahead of her own, and can turn on the charm when she needs to for the right purpose. In many ways this was one of the films she acted in that showed her level of versatility and what she could accomplish if given the chance.
Unfortunately when it comes to TV she hasn’t had a whole lot of luck since at least a couple of the shows that she attempted to start in were cancelled in short order. Aside from that she’s guest-starred in other shows and has one at this time that’s still in production. You could say she’s been keeping busy with her career but at the same time you could say that her career has kind of had its ups and downs throughout the years as she’s done her best to gain some traction and finally find a show that will last for more than a season and thereby restart her career a bit. Karyn Parsons is still a well-known actress and should be able to land a gig here and there and possibly find a starring role in either TV or film since she is one of those from the past that still very talented and possesses the kind of skills that could put her over very easily when it comes to pretty much any project.
The fact that she’s accomplished so many different roles in her career should be enough to land her something that can be deemed a success, though she might have to settle for a supporting role in a great show or movie or a lead role in a middle of the road show that could be successful but won’t exactly be award-winning. It’s nothing against her acting, which is great, but a lot of stars from the 90s that haven’t been able to reach the next level in their careers are usually seen to fade away or hang on until it becomes evident that they’re no longer going to be getting the starring roles. Hopefully this next project she’s in will show that Karyn hasn’t reached that point.