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Will Smith passes the title of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" to star of Peacock's dramatic reboot, Jabari Banks

The West Philly native will play Will in the drama series, Bel-Air

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Image of Will Smith after letting out the longest “Yo!”
Image of Will Smith after letting out the longest “Yo!”
Screenshot: Peacock/Youtube (Fair Use)

From West Philadelphia born and raised, comes the new Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Jabari Banks. The Philly native and television newcomer will take on the role of Will in the new dramatic series, Bel-Air, which reimagines the 1990s sitcom that starred Will Smith. The show’s original Will surprised Banks with news that he got the role in a video shared today.

Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air is a serialized one-hour dramatic analogue of the 90’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that leans into the original premise: Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. With a reimagined vision, Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions, and biases that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show. There’s none of Carlton’s signature dance and Uncle Phil takes on an even more authoritative role, because “life ain’t like a sitcom.” If there’s something networks seem set on making, it’s dramatic reimaginings of ‘90s teen comedy series, and Peacock wants in.

The hour-long drama is based on Morgan Cooper’s popular fan film, Bel-Air. Cooper posted the 4-minute trailer on Youtube in March of 2019, and it’s since racked up nearly 7 million views. The video caught the attention of Smith himself, who will executive produce the series with Terence Carter, James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, Malcolm Spellman, Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy & Susan Borowitz. It looks like hell did in fact freeze over.


Bel-Air received a two-season order from Peacock in September 2020. T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson (The Chi, The 100) serve as executive producers and co-showrunners. Cooper directs and serves as co-writer and executive producer. Banks takes on his first television role for Bel-Air, snagging the role after graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia last year.