Fresh Prince Reboot: Meet Jabari Banks, the Star Taking Over Will Smith's Iconic Role

West Philadelphia native Jabari Banks has officially been cast to play Will in Peacock's Fresh Prince reboot, BEL-AIR. See the young actor's response to Will Smith telling him the news!

By Samantha Bergeson Aug 31, 2021 5:45 PMTags
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BEL-AIR has found its new boy! 

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Peacock announced that West Philadelphia "born and raised" star Jabari Banks will take over Will Smith's iconic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air role in the prequel series.

The reimagined reboot takes the show's famed theme song quite literally: "now this is a story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air…" 

Smith personally surprised Banks via video chat with the news of his casting. "From the deepest parts of my heart, I want to say congratulations to you," Smith told Banks in a touching clip. "You have the role of Will on BEL-AIR.

Banks said in surprise, "I'm so ready. I'm ready to bite down." 

See his adorable reaction in the video below and find out how Banks' father helped him audition!

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Cast, Then and Now

Banks, a University of the Arts in Philly graduate, is also an accomplished songwriter, singer, rapper and basketball player.  

BEL-AIR is a drama series based on cinematographer Morgan Cooper's 2019 viral fan film trailer. The one-hour family drama which will be set in modern-day America and tells the tense story of why Will (Banks) relocated from West Philadelphia to California.

Per an official description, 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."

The show has already picked up for two seasons by Peacock but its premiere date was pushed back to 2022 after a showrunner shake-up

"We have just officially closed the deal with Peacock with an unprecedented two-season-order from a pitch," producer Smith shared with Cooper in a previous YouTube video. "I've been in this business for 30 years and that does not happen. They ordered two full seasons of BEL-AIR based on the quality of the pitch and the work that you guys have done. So, I want to say congratulations. I am hyped."

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2021 TV Premiere Dates

Cooper, who plans to direct, co-write and co-executive produce the drama, additionally said that he wants to "peel back the layers of these iconic characters and explore this world in a really unforgettable way."  

BEL-AIR comes from Universal Television and Smith's Westbrook Studios, with co-showrunners T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson also serving as executive producers along with Smith, Terence Carter, James LassiterMiguel MelendezMalcolm SpellmanQuincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy and Susan Borowitz.

(E! and Peacock are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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