This ain’t your Aunt Viv’s ‘Fresh Prince’ – all we know about ‘Bel-Air’


Something got flipped and turned upside down.

If 90s kids were excited about revisiting the simple sitcom joys of a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot…well, maybe some of you should sit down for a second. Most of us expect a gritty reboot when it comes to a golden age comic book superhero or perhaps a classic sci-fi series, but unless you caught Morgan Cooper’s mock trailer fan-film Bel-Air back in March of 2019, you probably weren’t expecting anything in the trailer for the new reboot that just dropped except perhaps a few familiar names and places.

Cooper’s tribute took the basic premises of the beloved and dialed up the dramatic notes. In the trailer, Smith’s “whoopsie” on the b-ball court becomes a life-threatening event, with the “Will” character – portrayed in the mock vehicle by actor Jerry Madison – ending up in a police headlock on the playground. Then, all of a sudden, the slick “fresh prince” finds himself fleeing cross-country for his very life, and the Day-Glo familiar 90s feel-good of the original series has become something out of The Wire.

Cooper’s trailer garnered over 7 million views and 169 thousand likes…and the attention of Will Smith himself, who soon expressed interest in fleshing the concept into an actual series reboot. Flash forward to 2022, and fans are getting their first look at the new series. And some aren’t sure what to think about the new cast or the new tone. In order to help fans find their footing with the new take, here’s everything we know about Bel-Air.

Where, when, and for how long?

Bel-Air will run on NBC’s Peacock streaming service and will make its debut on Feb. 13. Peacock has ordered at least two seasons.

Is the old cast involved?

Although Smith is on board as a producer, it has not been announced if he or any other old series regulars are set to appear in the reboot, cameo or otherwise. Fans of the original Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Ashley (Tatyana Ali), or butler Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell) will probably not spot them in the new series. Sadly, the original Uncle Phil, James Avery, passed away in 2013.

Who’s Will?

Jabari Banks is playing the reboot’s Will. In an Oct. 21 post on Instagram, Smith passed the torch on to Banks, stating, “You got a fantastic road ahead of you. I am looking forward to being an asset for you in this process as you build out your life and your career.” Banks responded in near disbelief, “I’m ready. I’m so ready. I’m ready to bite down.”

Who is the supporting cast?

Photo via Peacock

Peacock announced the cast in September of last year. The mostly newcomer lineup includes veteran television actor Adrian Holmes as the new Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, rapper and Disney star Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, and Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey. In addition, Jordan L. Jones will feature as a reimagined Jazz, the character originally played by Will Smith’s DJ, Jeffrey Allen Townes, aka DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Who are the producers?

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios produced the series. Director Morgan Cooper will also get an executive producer credit. Additional execs include music legend Quincy Jones, Terence Carter, Smith’s longtime business partner James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, screenwriter Malcolm Spellman, Benny Medina, and original Fresh Prince creators Andy and Susan Borowitz.

Smith has high hopes that the series reimagining will be just as impactful in the highly politicized and social media-driven world of the 2020s as it did in the 1990s, telling Us Magazine. “The Carlton character, modern-day: a Black, young republican. What’s the Hilary character in a world of Instagram and social media? What does that become? Uncle Phil, a Black lawyer turned judge. Aunt Viv, a professional woman that decided to raise her family, and now that her kids are older making her way back. All of that stuff is so rich.”