Now THIS is a story!
Today Peacock revealed a first look at their reimagined drama-series BEL-AIR, focusing on the new “Will” (newcomer Jabari Banks.”) and narrated by Will Smith. The series is based on Morgan Cooper’s viral fan film Bel-Air, which went viral after he dropped it in 2019. The teaser features newcomer Jabari Banks, who ACTUALLY hails from West Philadelphia, as the new Will. Like Will Smith, Banks is a songwriter, singer, rapper and basketball player who graduated from the University of the Arts in Philly in 2020. Check out the teaser below:
Did you peep all the allusions to the original “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”? Jabari is wearing Jordans in homage to the sneakers Will Smith wore in
“The Fresh Prince,” he’s also floating alongside basketballs, a trophy, and ATVs and of course a crown. Did you peep the dice too?
Here’s a full synopsis of “Bel-Air”:
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.
“At its heart, Bel-Air is a coming-of-age story that celebrates the strength and love of the Black family,” T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, Executive Producers and Co-Showrunners of “Bel-Air” said in a release from Peacock. “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.”
Peep the video from when Will surprised Jabari with the news he’d be playing the new Will:
Aw this is so sweet, right? What do you think about Jabari?
And if you were wondering what happened to Morgan Cooper, who made the original fan film that inspired this reimagining, he’s actually Director, Co-Writer and Executive Producer on the show!
“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,” Cooper said via statement. “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 rest of the cast includes 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).
Peacock hasn’t yet announced a release date for “Bel-Air” but the show is slated to drop sometime in 2022 and it’s already been greenlit for two seasons. Are you looking forward to watching?