Newcomer Jabari Banks replaces Will Smith in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ reboot

This is Banks' first TV role

Emerging star Jabari Banks will take the lead in Bel-Air, a reworking of the popular 90s comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring Will Smith.

The new show, which will be a drama in contrast, hails from Jada Pinkett Smith and Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Universal Television.

Smith, who rose to fame through his starring role in the six-season show, broke the news to Banks himself via video.

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“From the deepest parts of my heart I want to say congratulations to you,” said Smith to a surprised Banks. “You have the role of Will on Bel-Air.” Watch the video in full below.

Two seasons of Bel-Air were green-lit in 2020. The new show is based on a viral video by superfan Morgan Cooper which imagined the sitcom as a drama – and totted up over five million views.

A synopsis says it will focus on “Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. With a reimagined vision, Bel-Air 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.”

This will be Banks’ first TV role. Like Smith, he hails from Philadelphia, which is where the show was set.

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In August, the revival parted ways with showrunner Chris Collins. According to The Hollywood Reporter, T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, who were working with Collins on the series, took over as co-showrunners.

Cooper remains on board as a writer, director and co-executive producer. The series is expected to premiere in 2022.

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