Two years after a dramatic reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was announced to be in the works, the streaming service Peacock has finally revealed the cast. Actor Jabari Banks will star in the titular role, and he was surprised with the news via videoconference by the original Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith.
Banks auditioned for the part in July, and his win was announced in early September. He was thrilled with the news and wrote the following message on his IG: “This is TRULY a dream come true! Thank you to @willsmith & @cooperfilms for trusting me with this iconic role! I can’t wait to make you all laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between 😎.”
The following list of actors rounds out the remaining cast:
- Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks
- Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks
- Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks
- Coco Jones as Hilary Banks
- Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks
- Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey
- Jordan L. Jones as Jazz
- Simone Joy Jones as Lisa
Morgan Cooper, who directed the reimagined Bel-Air trailer, which spawned the reboot, revealed how fans will be introduced to the new Fresh Prince and the Banks family. “I envision the first season being the rest of his junior year,” he said during a 2019 sit-down with the real Will Smith and screenwriter Mike Soccio, who was a contributor on the sitcom. There’s no worse time for a kid to land in a new place than in the middle of a school year.”
“The dramatic version of these ideas means that you can use existing storylines,” Smith said to Cooper, “but it’s not going to seem like you’re redoing an episode because the storyline is going to be brand new from the dramatic perspective.”
Even Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley Banks in the original version, told ET she was enthusiastic about the darker slant on the show. “I think it’s brilliant,” she said in an interview last year. “Flipping it and making it a drama is so dope. I think that’s part of this lasting power of the sitcom — it was based in real stuff.”
Smith confirmed that Peacock has already ordered two seasons of Bel-Air, but fans will have to wait a little while longer for the “dice in the mirror.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, the delayed casting and exit of two showrunners from the project means the first episode of Bel-Air is now scheduled for a 2022 premiere.