The Stars of ‘Bel-Air’ on Black Excellence and Representing for the Culture

A cloudy evening over The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena did nothing to hide the high spirits inside The Tap Room — the resort’s cocktail bar and lounge — where the cast of NBC/Peacock’s NAACP award-nominated series Bel-Air came both to cool down and celebrate, post red carpet, after a long day of photos and interviews just an hour earlier.

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Peacock Drops Official Teaser for ‘Bel-Air’ Coming 2022

The Nerds of Color has steadily followed the hype and news around Peacock’s upcoming series Bel-Air, a reimagined take on the classic ’90s sitcom that starred Will Smith, James Avery, and Janet Hubert, and today they dropped an official teaser for the show.

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Peacock’s Highly Anticipated ‘Bel-Air’ Reboot Finds its Cast

Today, Peacock’s highly anticipated drama series Bel-Air, the contemporary reimagining of the dope ass and culture defining ’90s sitcomhas announced its full main cast. The serialized reboot comes courtesy of director Morgan Cooper’s viral fan film Bel-Air from 2019, with T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson on board as co-showrunners.

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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.”

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Will Smith Sets the Stage as Venus and Serena Williams’ Father in ‘King Richard’

Will Smith’s legendary resume of star biopic roles continues to grow with the upcoming release of King Richard. The biographical drama directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin captures the life and times of father and coach of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams.

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‘Spies in Disguise’ Directors Knew They Wanted Will Smith from the Start

Spies in Disguise opens in theaters this week and stars Will Smith as famous super-spy Lance Sterling who turns into a pigeon when he accidentally ingests a ‘biodynamic concealment’ invention by young scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland). Now, Lance Sterling must find a way to stop a cybernetic villain from destroying the world as a small creature.

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The Wonderful Mr. Wong: An Interview with ‘Gemini Man’ Star Benedict Wong

Gemini Man, the action-packed latest film by master director, Ang Lee, hits theaters today. One of the biggest highlights of the film is a great welcome comedic performance by one of our favorite sorcerers/assassins/Stark Wedding guests, Benedict Wong (Doctor StrangeDeadly ClassAvengers: Endgame). In the film, Wong plays Baron, Will Smith’s trusty eyes in the sky, and fellow soldier/best friend. Recently, The Nerds of Color were granted the incredible opportunity to sit down for a brief, intimate chat with Mr. Wong, to discuss the making of the film, as well as technological advancements in filmmaking, and the state of Asian actors in Hollywood today. Here’s what he had to say:

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Double Trouble at the ‘Gemini Man’ Press Conference!

Ang Lee. Will Smith. Jerry Bruckheimer. Titans in this industry, who we never thought would ever come together, are finally joining forces to do the one thing Hollywood is not prepared for: Cloning Will Smith. Mind blown, right?

In the new blockbuster, Gemini Man, Smith plays Henry Brogan, an aging assassin — the best in the business — on the verge of retirement. However just before the beat-down covert killer can utter the phrase, “Riggs, I’m too old for this sh–” he’s confronted by his younger, better, sexier self, who has been cloned and sent to kill him. Now, on the run with the only two people he can count on, Henry is on a mission to confront the masterminds responsible for cloning him, as well as the clone who represents the better days that have passed him.

The film has been in development since the late ’90s, and stalled for some time, because Bruckheimer needed the technology to catch up to the premise. And luckily, he found the one man who could do justice to the story: two-time Academy Award winner, Ang Lee. Last week, Paramount invited members of the press to sit down with Lee, Smith, Bruckheimer, co-star, Clive Owen, and the master VFX crew from Weta Digital, VFX supervisor Guy Williams, and VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer, to talk about the movie, and the challenges of finally bringing Gemini Man to life.

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Welcome to The Middle Geeks!

Welcome to The Middle Geeks! In our very first episode, Mae and Swara introduce the podcast and discuss our feelings on Middle East and North African (MENA) representation in popular media. We also review the live action remakes of Aladdin, discussing what we think it did well, how it could have done better, and how the unfortunate Orientalism of the film conveys how Disney and the rest of Hollywood need to do better on Middle Eastern inclusion.

We are a proud member of the Hard NOC podcast family.

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‘Aladdin’ Cast and Creatives on Adding Inclusive Stories for Women and People of Color

Disney’s Aladdin will be the first live-action Disney film that showcases people of color in starring roles. The cast and creatives of the film know this and appreciate the effort. Starring Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud as the title character, British Indian Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie, Disney wanted to be sure the characters in the beloved story represented the Aladdin origin story (which also included East and South Asian origins) as well as the animated film.

“I think it is critically important to be able to pull stories and colors and textures and tastes from around the world,” said Smith during the Aladdin press conference. “I think that in this particular time in the world, that kind of inclusion and diversity will be a critical part of turning our connectivity, because we have more connectivity than ever, but transitioning that connectivity into harmony is going to be really critical. And, I think these kinds of interactions in these types of movies are a powerful global service. It was critical and important to me. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East also. So this one particularly was critically important in that way.”

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Hard NOC Life: A Whole New Podcast

With Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin about to hit theaters worldwide, Keith is joined by Swara Salih and Mae Abdulbaki to discuss the film’s issues with representation and announce The Middle Geeks their new podcast on the Hard NOC Media network!

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The Live Action ‘Aladdin’ Doubles Down on Orientalist and Colorist Trends

Aladdin is one of my favorite films of all time. It gave me, as a brown Middle Eastern kid, heroic representation that’s always stayed with me. I’ve already written at length for about my overall very complicated feelings on the live action remake. While the new trailer is solid, it’s also given more insight into the problematic trends this live action movie seems to perpetuate. Overall, I have little to no confidence that this film will improve upon the problematic aspects of the original (besides the welcome addition of having people of color play the main roles), and in fact will double down on more troubling aspects.

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Will Deadshot Dead Idris Elba’s Career?

Idris Elba will replace Will Smith in the James Gunn-helmed Suicide Squad, dropping in 2021. For some reason, to me, this feels like the death knell for Elba to be the monstrous movie star we all know he deserves to be. Don’t @ me, but Elba isn’t where he should and could be. He’s made some career missteps (way more in film and music than on television), but I don’t think this is why he’s bubbled for so long, instead of popping.

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Hard NOC Life: Feels Like the End of Summer

This week on Hard NOC Life, Shawn and Keith discuss the news from the waning days of summer, including Childish Gambino’s latest, the new Jack Ryan series on Amazon, and the reveal of Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.

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Admit it: Diversity Saved ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide Squad director and writer David Ayer has written a screenplay that is flat and not very exciting. The editing is all over the place and most of the characters are boring. This may not be all Ayer’s fault. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers gave him only six weeks to write whatever he could and went straight to shooting. Why did the studio let this happen?!

I will give Ayer props for making the cast unique in that it’s one of the few (maybe the only) comic book film with such a diverse group of actors in major roles.

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An Honest Review: Suicide Squad

So let’s talk about Suicide Squad, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year.


Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

The verdict? There was some pacing issues and the worldbuilding/mythos was a bit rushed, especially considering this is only the third movie in the DCEU universe. Definitely some areas of opportunity in terms of the editing. It made the one scene with Amanda Waller handing out pinkslips gangsta style a bit on the nose.

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Remembering James Avery

If you’re a fan of ‘90s pop culture, and you appreciate hip hop music and quality comedy television, then you were probably a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The show, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was an entertaining display of humor, culture clashes, and broken stereotypes that almost always ended with a message about the importance of family. Although Will Smith was undoubtedly the star of the show, and Carlton had the best moves (see The Carlton Dance), one of the most memorable characters was Uncle Phil, played by James Avery with a deep love and seriousness that all fathers should possess. More than that, Avery’s Uncle Phil also had a sense of humor that made him the ultimate cool uncle.

Sadly, Avery passed away on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 from open-heart surgery complications. He was only 68.

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