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Tatyana Marisol Ali (born January 24, 1979) is an American actress and R&B singer, best known for her childhood role as Ashley Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Since January 2010, she has starred as Tyana Jones on the TV One original sitcom Love That Girl!, and has had a recurring role as Roxanne on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless.By the age of six, she had begun her acting career, as a regular child performer on Sesame Street starting in 1985, even appearing with Herbie Hancock in a musical number. She also appeared twice on Star Search.
She made her breakthrough when she was cast as Ashley Banks for the television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990. She sang on various episodes of the show, including a heavily altered version of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and the original song, "Make Up Your Mind" produced by Robert Jerald of N'Spyre Music Productions. Will Smith asked her if she seriously considered pursuing a musical career. Despite her singing ability, she concentrated on her acting career on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the next few years.
In the final season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1995–96), Ali began preparing herself for her musical debut. The result was the album Kiss The Sky, which was certified gold in early 1999. The album spawned the hit song "Daydreamin'", released July 21, 1998, produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the UK Singles Chart.
The album spawned two further UK hits, "Boy You Knock Me Out", featuring Will Smith, which peaked at No. 3 and is her biggest hit to date; and "Everytime", which was her third top 20 hit in the UK, peaking at No. 20. She made an appearance in Smith's album Willennium for the track "Who Am I" with MC Lyte.
Along with her musical career, Ali kept acting in many films. She had the chance to work with recognized film directors such as Takeshi Kitano (Brother), Rodrigo Garcia (Mother and Child), among others.
In 2005, she completed work on the film Glory Road and starred in the music video for Nick Cannon and Anthony Hamilton's "Can I Live?" as Cannon's mother.
In early 2008, she performed on the song "Yes We Can", a will.i.am project supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She also appeared in the subsequent music video which gained coverage on the "What the Buzz" segment of ABC's World News Now.
She also performed the title song, "Sunny Valentine" along with Terrence Quaites for the indie film, Rockin' Meera directed by Param Gill in 2005.
She is also producing and starring in the BET web show, Buppies. She is currently on recurring status on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless as Roxanne.
Ali can be seen in the show, Love That Girl! on TV One. She stars as Tyana (which comes from the last five letters of her name). When asked if the character bears any similarities to her, Ali said in a CaribPress interview, "She's a bit neurotic and I hope I am not quite like that."
"One thing that I do love about her is that she is really multidimensional," she went on to say in the same interview. "I think it's nice to have a female character that is portrayed in (a) really holistic way."
Ali also starred in Nora's Hair Salon and Nora's Hair Salon 2: A Cut Above.
In 2011, Ali received the Living Legacy Award from the Caribbean Heritage Organization in Los Angeles. In 2012, Ali appeared as a guest on The Eric Andre Show.
Ali's most recent role, as of January 15, 2013, is starring as Maya, along with Craig Wayans and Damien Dante Wayans, in the BET comedy, Second Generation Wayans.Ali attended Harvard University where she received a bachelor's degree in Afro-American history and government in 2002. She traveled the United States as a spokesperson for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and headed voter registration drives at college campuses. In 2012, she continued showing her support. Tatyana Ali is the daughter of an Afro-Panamanian  mother and a Trinidadian father of East Indian descent.
She dated actor Jonathan Brandis from 1995 to 1998.Since the early 1990s, Alexander has concentrated on film and TV, playing the character Catherine Duke on NewsRadio - a role she left after the start of season 4. She made a guest appearance in the episode after Phil Hartman's death. She also played the recurring character Jackie Robbins on ER. She is known for her starring role as Fran, a mother addicted to drugs in the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries The Corner. She portrayed the character Alexx Woods, a medical examiner in the forensics-related drama CSI: Miami for 6 seasons as a series regular.
She has made guest appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NYPD Blue, Third Watch, Cosby, Better off Ted and La Femme Nikita.
Khandi starred in the movie CB4 with Chris Rock and Charlie Murphy. Other film credits include Dark Blue, Sugar Hill, Menace II Society, House Party 3, There's Something About Mary, Rain, Poetic Justice, and the Tina Turner biopic What's Love Got To Do With It, where she portrayed an Ikette.
She left the CBS hit show CSI: Miami shortly before the end of the 2007-2008 season. Her final appearance aired Monday, May 5, 2008 ("Rock and a Hard Place"). On February 2, 2009, she returned to the role of Alexx Woods for a guest appearance in the episode "Smoke Gets In Your CSI's". She later returned again as Alexx Woods for more guest appearances in the episodes "Out of Time" on September 21, 2009 and "Bad Seed" on October 19, 2009.
Khandi currently stars in the award-winning HBO television series by David Simon, Treme, where she plays a bar owner in an affected neighborhood of post-Katrina New Orleans.[Khandi Alexander was born in New York City and educated at Queensborough Community College. She appeared on Broadway, starring in Chicago, Bob Fosse's Dancin, and Dreamgirls. She was a choreographer for Whitney Houston's world tour from 1988–1992, and also appeared as a dancer in Natalie Cole's video for "Pink Cadillac" in 1988.