Imagine if you were a hungry, young actor receiving the word that you’d just nabbed an iconic role. Not good enough? Well, then imagine if the guy delivering the good news is the TV and movie star who made that role iconic. That’s what happened to the newcomer Jabari Banks when he learned he was going to be the new Fresh Prince from the mouth of Will Smith himself.
Banks auditioned for the role of Will in Bel-Air, the upcoming dramatic reboot of the 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As reported by Deadline, it was Tuesday when Will Smith surprised the young Banks with a video conference call to deliver the news personally. Smith posted the video to his Instagram, sharing the celebratory, heart-warming conversation with all of his followers.You can watch the video below.
Will Smith offers the news “from the deepest part” of his heart, congratulating Banks and letting him know he’ll be playing Will. Banks is clearly thrilled and stunned, but no less confident for the surprise. Banks tells Smith, “I’m so ready, yo. I’m ready to bite down.” Asked how he heard about the role, Banks says his father read about the Bel-Air reboot before the actor did, and two months later his agent called him about the audition. Banks also has fun showing Smith a picture on his phone of him and seven of his high school friends dressing up as characters from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
A year ago this month, The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce that Bel-Air had landed at Peacock with an order for two seasons with Will Smith on the project as executive producer. However, the new series will reportedly be a drama rather than a situation comedy like its predecessor. The inspiration for the series comes from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air superfan Morgan Cooper who posted a trailer — which you can watch below — summing up his idea of a version of the original story reframed in a more serious manner. Fittingly, Cooper is attached as one of the writers for Bel-Air.
While as far as we know, the plan is still for Bel-Air to be a drama unlike the series Will Smith starred in, some news has caused speculation to stir about just how different the reboot will be from the source material. As THR reported in August, Chris Collins (The Wire, Sons of Anarchy) was the original showrunner for Bel-Air but he left the project last December. Collins was replaced by Diane Houston (Empire) who likewise has since left the show. The writing duo of T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson — who have collaborated previously on show’s like Lie to Me and Army Wives — will act as the new co-showrunners.
THR says neither Peacock nor Universal Television have commented on the reason for the previous showrunners’ departures from the reboot of the beloved Will Smith sitcom. However, unnamed sources have told THR the showrunner changes are related to the show going in a “slightly different direction,” and that Peacock is specifically looking for a “broad-skewing network-style show” while earlier showrunners — particularly Chris Collins — were gunning for something more edgy.