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West Philly Local Jabari Banks to Star as Will Smith in Peacock’s ‘Bel-Air’

It’s official, folks! After carefully searching for the right lead, Peacock’s highly anticipated drama series Bel-Air, the contemporary reimagining of the immortalized ‘90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has cast newcomer and West Philadelphia local Jabari Banks in the iconic role of “Will.”

Earlier this week, Will Smith dropped the bombshell surprise on Jabari as they talked online. Banks (aptly named) lives in West Philly. He graduated from the University of the Arts in Philly in 2020. Jabari goes beyond being just a triple threat: he’s an accomplished songwriter, singer, rapper, and basketball player.

Last year, via this announcement from Will, it was revealed that Peacock ordered two seasons of the series adaptation of director Morgan Cooper’s viral fan film Bel-Air from 2019. The short film reimagines the West Philly story of a kid with all the style and all the swagger jettisoned to Bel-Air in LA, the same story that set the tone for us ‘90s kids who learned hella life lessons from Will and the Banks family.

Cooper serves as the series’ director, co-writer, and executive producer, while T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson are on board as co-showrunners and executive producers. The incredible roster of additional executive producers include Will Smith, Terence Carter, James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, Malcolm Spellman, Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy & Susan Borowitz.

Per Peacock’s announcement:

SERIES DESCRIPTION: 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.

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