New fresh prince Jabari Banks ready to win Bel Air

NEW YORK – Jabari Banks knew he was close to getting Will’s lead role in ” Bel Air“, A dramatic version of” The Fresh Prince of Bel Air “, but his confidence began to wane when he was asked to hold another audition at Zoom with the show’s director Morgan Cooper.

“I say, ‘I don’t know what he wants to see, but I’ll give him everything I have,'” the 23-year-old recalled in a recent interview. “I thought, ‘I’m going to put everything into this audition.'”

Banks found a quiet place – a friend’s closet – and logged in, only to see a very familiar face looking at him, Will Smith.

“I didn’t think it was real,” Banks said. “He said, ‘I want to congratulate you.’ You got the role of Will in “Bel Air.”

And then in Smith’s true zeal the superstar ordered Banks to invite those with him to join Zoom. “He said,‘ Where’s everyone? “Go get them,” Banks said. So many of my friends have met Will. ”


And that’s how Banks became the (new) Prince of Bel Air. The series is coming out on Peacock with a new episode on Thursdays.

Cooper says finding an actor for the role of the new Will was a daunting task, and that he was looking for a “unicorn”.

“Hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of auditions were pouring in. We needed a guy who would have fans, charisma, but also a pure acting spirit that enjoys the eyes, ”he said. “Jabari Banks is such a star and he shines so brightly.”

The parallels between Smith and Banks seem to have been created for Hollywood. Like Smith, Banks hails from western Philadelphia. He is also a musician working on his own EP, which he says is a mix of R&B, hip-hop and alternative genres, and plans to release it later this year. He also loves fashion, and “Fresh Prince” has become a trend.

Banks says he takes advantage of this huge opportunity “once,” and quotes an anecdote from Smith’s autobiography, “Will,” that his father instructed him and his brother to build a brick wall.


“I followed this motto and kept going from day to day,” he said.

The series, which is now airing on Peacock, immediately received an order for two seasons.

“Bel Air” was conceived by Cooper, a director from Kansas City, who himself learned to shoot film on camera purchased at Best Buy. He grew up loving “The Fresh Prince” and believed that the premise of the show could work today, but also reflect the times.

“If you remove the track of laughter from the sitcom and really look at the scenario from a bird’s eye view, the story will really become dramatic. Young black men from western Philadelphia get into a fight and are forced to move across the country. What does it look like in modern life? It lends itself to some really interesting dramatic moments that are rooted in very real conversations. ”

Cooper famously made a trailer for this idea using local actors and downloaded it YouTube. Even 24 hours later, Smith’s production company, Westbrook, reached out for a meeting. Two weeks later, Cooper flew to Miami to meet with Smith, where he filmed “Bad Boys for Life.” It went well, two seasons were booked, and the first three episodes came out Sunday after the Super Bowl.


At Bel Air, a 16-year-old high school basketball star named Will plays in a local court when he gets into a fight with a gang. The situation quickly worsened and Will was arrested. After he was released, his mother took him directly to the airport to catch a flight to Los Angeles. She sends him to his aunt, uncle and their children where it is safer. There he will go to school until everything calms down.

In real life, Banks found himself at the crossroads of junior high school. He loved basketball, but low grades did not allow him to play.

Banks ’mom told him,“ You have to find something to do after school, ”so he joined the theater group. Here he says he fell in love with the performances.

The acting newcomer says he looks forward to meeting black artists to help him navigate show business.

“I would like to work with LaKeith Stanfield. A big fan of his. A big fan of Denzel (Washington.). Daniel Kaluya, I would like to work with him and Sterling K. Brown. Demson Idris. These are all artists I look at. ”

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