One of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is getting a fresh new dramatic spin in the form of Peacock’s Bel-Air. Based on a viral trailer by Morgan Cooper, this show brings West Philly’s Will Smith into the twenty-first century, where his family’s mansion is even bigger and his adjustment into high society isn’t a laughing matter.
The cast, led by Jabari Banks as Will, includes Adrian Holmes as Uncle Phil, Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Viv, Coco Jones as Hilary, Olly Sholotan as Carlton, Akira Akbar as Ashley, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey, Simone Joy Jones as Lisa, and Jordan L. Jones as Jazz. Awards Radar had the chance to speak with the entire ensemble (read our interview with Will here) about their relationships with the original series and tackling the new versions of their characters.
Coco Jones and Olly Sholotan had particularly intriguing takes on how they approached the series’ takes on Hilary and Carlton, respectively:
Jones: I wanted to speak for the girls that were CEOs and had these unconventional ambitions and these paths that aren’t necessarily the go to college and get a job path, because I didn’t have that path in my life, so it really resonated with me to tell that story and represent the fearless, courageous character that you have to be to pursue these goals against all odds.
Sholotan: My main focus was centered around the perceived fragility of blackness and how, as a community in general, there’s this idea that there’s one way to be black, and blackness is a monolith. And so the concept of someone who is different than the type of black person that you know, and being like, you’re not really black, or you don’t act black, and the ways that can affect a young kid just trying to feel belonging to a community.
Watch the conversations below!
Bel-Air debuted with three episodes on Super Bowl Sunday, with one new episode per week each Thursday.