BEL-AIR is a contemporary reimagining of the beloved and culture-defining 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The series is based on Morgan Cooper’s viral fan film Bel-Air, which dropped in 2019 and lit the internet on fire. In this incredible video HERE, Will Smith surprised Jabari after landing the role of a lifetime. The series was picked up for two seasons.
Jabari Banks lives in West Philly. He graduated from University of the Arts in Philly in 2020. In addition to acting, Jabari is an accomplished songwriter, singer, rapper, and basketball player.
In the new teaser the VO is a dramatic reading of the OG theme song read by Will Smith. Jabari Banks (our new Will) is wearing Jordan’s as an homage to the sneakers Will Smith wore in the OG series. As Jabari Banks (Will) sinks into the water, he looks up as remnants from his old life in Philly float past him: basketballs, a trophy, and ATVs. The crown alludes to the possibility of a new life. The dice are the first items from his life in Bel-Air. In the OG series the cab had dice in the mirror (OG theme song lyric: The license plate said ‘Fresh’ and it had dice in the mirror).
T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, Executive Producers and Co-Showrunners
“At its heart, Bel-Air is a coming-of-age story that celebrates the strength and love of the Black family. We have stayed true to the original premise of the legacy series – Will’s life is turned upside down after he is forced to leave West Philly and lands in Bel-Air with its gated mansions and wealth, however, our new series brings Will and the Banks family into the world as we know it now. It’s been incredible to bring these iconic characters to life when you tap them into the cultural pulse of our time. The series was the fabric of so many of our upbringings, tied to memories and the joy of seeing ourselves represented on TV so it is important to us to pay respect to its legacy.”
“During the development of Bel-Air, the most daunting question was: Could we find a young actor who’d be able to step into the role of Will Smith? Well, did we ever find him. His name is Jabari Banks and he won our hearts in the same way he won this role. Our creative team, including Will Smith, recognized that Jabari embodied the talent, charisma, and sheer swagger necessary to make this iconic role his own.”
Morgan Cooper, Director, Co-Writer, Executive Producer
“With this dramatic reimagining, we wanted to create a show that stands on its own while honoring the spirit and innovation of the original series. Because Bel-Air is a drama, we’re able to really peel back the layers of these characters and themes in a way that you simply couldn’t do 30 years ago in the half-hour sitcom format. We’re able to go have tough conversations that challenge perspectives. At its core, Bel-Air is a celebration of the black experience through the perspective of a family.
“My approach to the series started with a deep focus on tone and really being intentional with my creative choices. I’m inspired by a lot of things as a director; it could be a random conversation, memories from my past, it could be art, music, fashion. Everything can be inspiration, and having a two-season order gives us the opportunity to go infinitely deeper narratively, visually, and aesthetically. I think that with Bel-Air we have created something unique and honest.
The other cast members include Adrian Holmes as “Phillip Banks” (At That Age, V Wars), Cassandra Freeman as “Vivian Banks” (The Enemy Within, Atlanta), Olly Sholotan as “Carlton Banks” (Run Hide Fight, Evolution of Nate Gibson), Coco Jones as “Hilary Banks” (Let it Shine, Vampires vs. The Bronx), Akira Akbar as “Ashley Banks” (We Can Be Heroes, Captain Marvel), Jimmy Akingbola as “Geoffrey” (Most Dangerous Game, In The Long Run), Jordan L. Jones as “Jazz” (Rel, Snowfall), and Simone Joy Jones as “Lisa” (The Chair, What If).