Jabari Banks Opens Up About Playing Will Smith On ‘Bel-Air’ Reboot

Jabari Banks Bel-Air

The West Philly native has huge shoes to fill.

Rapper-turned-actor Will Smith took on the lead role of the classic 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Three decades later, Smith joined forces with Kansas City filmmaker Morgan Cooper to create the dramatic Bel-Air remake.

For Peacock’s new Bel-Air, Jabari Banks plays the 16-year-old “Will Smith” character. Fictional Will is a West Philadelphia native who is sent to live with his wealthy aunt, uncle, and cousins in California.

“I say it like this, if you took all of the characters from the 90s, but you dove into all of their diaries and all of their journals and what they were feeling internally, that’s what our show is,” Jabari Banks told Revolt.

The Hip Hop/R&B musician added, “So that’s going to be super exciting for old fans and new fans to watch and you’re going to see a lot of callbacks to the original, a lot of tidbits, and a lot of easter eggs, so that’s going to be exciting as well.”

Bel-Air also includes Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey Thompson, and Jordan L. Jones as Jazz.

Will Smith and Morgan Cooper are among the executive producers for Bel-Air. Cooper’s 4-minute fan film on YouTube inspired the drama reboot. The first three episodes of Bel-Air are now available for streaming on Peacock.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran for six seasons on NBC from 1990 to 1996. The show’s cast featured Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana Ali, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and Ross Bagley.