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‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Drama Reboot Casts Jabari Banks as the New Will Smith

Like Smith, Banks is a West Philly local

Peacock’s dramatic reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” has found its Will. Jabari Banks will take over the title role that Will Smith originated in the ’90s-era sitcom.

Like Smith (and has on-screen fictionalized version of himself), Banks is from West Philadelphia. The unknown actor is fresh out of college; he only graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2020.

Here’s the official description for the one-hour drama, titled “Bel-Air,” which received a two-season order at Peacock last September:

“Set in modern-day America, ‘Bel-Air’ is a serialized one-hour dramatic analogue of the ’90s 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.”

That plot is based on a four-minute spec trailer for a dark version of “Fresh Prince,” which Cooper wrote, directed and posted to YouTube in March 2019.

Cooper will direct, co-write and serve as co-executive producer on “Bel-Air,” alongside new writers, executive producers and showrunners T.J. Brady and Resheed Newson. “Bel-Air” has already undergone two showrunner changes. Original showrunner Chris Collins left in December over creative differences, and of his replacement showrunner, Diane Houston, stepped away earlier this month.

Additional executive producers include Smith, Terence Carter, James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, Quincy Jones, Benny Medina and Andy and Susan Borowitz.

Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Universal Television will produce the show.

“Fresh Prince” originally ran on NBC for six seasons between 1990-96 and helped to catapult Smith to stardom. It also starred James Avery, Alphonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell and Janet Hubert.