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Interview: ‘Bel-Air’ Star Jabari Banks Speaks to the Importance of Taking on the Iconic Will Smith Character

Filling the shoes of Will Smith is no easy task. Even so, newcomer Jabari Banks was eager to take on challenge for Bel-Air, a dramatic reimagining of the hit 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In the new Peacock series, Banks play Will (previously played by Will Smith,) a good-hearted and talented teenager haunted by some bad decisions that put his life in danger. To protect him, his family has him relocated from rough streets of Philadelphia to an affluent neighborhood in Bel Air California to live with his rich aunt and uncle.

The cast, led by Banks, includes all the familiar characters; 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.

The importance of it was not lost on Banks. He responded, “this is everything, this means the world to me.” He hopes to give back to his community through a series that delivers on the promise of representation, giving kids just like him a sense of “pride and excellence.” During the interview he also touched upon taking on Will Smith’s role, what to expect from the series, his favorite moments from the original and more.

Check out the full interview below and be sure to watch the Bel-Air, now streaming exclusively on Peacock.


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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