Bel-Air’s new “prince” has officially been crowned.
Peacock last year announced plans for a reimagined take on the beloved sitcom “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which catapulted Will Smith to stardom in the 1990s. The new version will be titled simply “Bel-Air” and, according to People and other outlets, will be a drama series that maintains the premise of the original while highlighting “the plight of Black men in America today.”
On Tuesday, Smith virtually broke the news to actor Jabari Banks that he had landed the role of Will, the streetwise Philadelphia teen who relocates to Bel-Air, a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles, to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their mansion.
In a video posted on Instagram, Smith tells Banks, “You’ve got a fantastic road ahead of you. I’m looking forward to being an asset for you in this process as you build out your life and build out your career.”
Like Smith and the character of Will, Banks originally hails from Philadelphia. In the clip, Banks said he first learned about “Bel-Air” from a newspaper article and, two months later, received a call from his agent, who suggested he audition.
“I’m ready,” Banks said. “I’m so ready … This is a dream come true.”
The original “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” debuted in 1990 and wrapped in 1996 after six seasons.
The idea for the more-serious reboot came from a 2019 video created by writer-director Morgan Cooper. The viral clip, which currently has more than 6 million views on YouTube, is a mock movie trailer that uses “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” characters to tackle modern issues like police brutality and gang violence.
“I felt like growing up I always thought there was more to the story, more behind the sitcom format,” Cooper said in an Okayplayer interview at the time. “I thought, ‘Wow, we could take this story and really ground it in reality in a really dramatic way.’”
Cooper’s video eventually caught Smith’s eye. The actor called it “brilliant” and is an executive producer of “Bel-Air.”
Peacock has not yet announced a release date for the upcoming show.
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