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‘Give it a Chance!’: ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Fans React to the Unveiling of ‘Bel-Air’ Re-Imagining Cast

The cast for the dramatic re-imagining of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is complete, and here are the stars. 

Just a few weeks ago, actor Will Smith, who starred in the original sitcom of the same name from 1990 to 1996, called and surprised burgeoning actor Jabari Banks with the news that he’d be taking on the lead role as the fly guy from Philly. NBC-TV’s streaming platform Peacock has unveiled the complete cast list for the new “Bel-Air,” and there are several familiar faces. 

Here’s a first look at the cast of the ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reboot. Photo: Peacock

The aforementioned Banks will make his acting debut as the young Will. For the parental roles, actor Adrian Holmes, known for his work in “V Wars,” will take on Philip Banks and Cassandra Freeman will portray the lovely mother of four, Mrs. Vivian Banks. 

Olly Sholotan, Coco Jones and Akira Akbar will star as Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley Banks, respectively. Lastly, Jimmy Akingbola will take on Geoffrey, Jordan L. Jones will portray Jazz, and Simone Joy Jones will play Lisa. 

A viral fan film by writer-director Morgan Cooper served as an inspiration for the rebootThe four-minute spec trailer caught Will Smith’s attention when it debuted in March 2019. 

Following the September 2021 announcement regarding the reboot, a serialized one-hour “dramatic analogue,” fans of the original show took to their social media pages, expressing their thoughts on the cast.  

One Twitter user claimed, “You can never recreate this kind of chemistry.” That person added, “Why do a reboot? It’ll forever get compared to the original, which was iconic and has lasted 30ish years. Only way this would work is if Will was dad and it was a continuation.”

Still, some were open to the idea, including one person who commented, “People have already cancelled it without watching it. Then we argue about lack of representation and opportunity. Give it a chance!”

Unlike its predecessor, the newest installment will take a darker angle. But, at the same time, it 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,” according to a series description.

The project hit a few snags along the way, including replacing showrunners twice before landing on writing pair T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson. Cooper will serve as director, co-writer and executive producer.

“Bel-Air” will debut on Peacock and has already been given a two-season order, although a premiere date has yet to be announced.

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