Transforming a classic 1990s sitcom into a 2020s-era drama might sound like a challenge; however, the cast and crew of BEL-AIR are confident they stepped up to the plate. Created after director, executive producer, and co-writer Morgan Cooper’s self-made film Bel-Air dropped in 2019 and went viral, the series reimagines the characters from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air beyond their comedic personas.
Will Smith, who starred in the original series, was impactful in seeing the series go from a YouTube concept to an actual series. In fact, he serves as an executive producer and worked with the cast and crew along the way.
“I remember him [Will Smith] telling me, to just create with confidence, always,” Cooper shared with VIBE during a virtual interview with the show’s cast and crew. “Him truly passing me that baton and giving me the trust to reimagine these characters is an honor and something I take very, very seriously, but it was a responsibility that I wanted. I’m very excited for the fans to see these reimagined characters that you know and love grounded through a modern lens. It’s gonna be a wild ride, so buckle up.”
BEL-AIR stars newcomer Jabari Banks as Will, Adrian Holmes as Uncle Phil, Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Viv, Olly Sholotan as Carlton, Coco Jones as Hilary, Akira Akbar as Ashley, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz, and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa. From the fashion and styling choices to the music, the cast is excited for audiences to see their modern interpretations of nostalgic characters and experience the entire series.
“Me speaking on Hillary, I think she’s really gonna gravitate towards, like, the boss babes and the CEOs with their own companies starting these big businesses and finding these unconventional routes to get to their bag,” shared jones. “‘Cause Hillary is a hustler and I know all the boss girls are gonna really be like, okay girl, I see you! You better push through past all the opposition.”
Sholotan added, “My favorite thing about Carlton’s story is definitely that I think that anyone who sees it, their first thought is, oh yeah, that is true. Because I think in the original show, a lot of Carlton’s struggles were played for laughs…In this one you really see the effects of a 16-year-old kid, not feeling like he belongs to his community and how that impacts him, and then, also, he deals with anxiety and that plays a huge part in his growth throughout the season.”
Banks describes Bel-Air simply as “Black, beautiful, and bussin’!”
“Once you watch the whole series, you gonna see some things,” exclaimed Freeman. “There’s something guaranteed that people will be screaming.”
“There’s a lot of little nuggets in there that you’re gonna appreciate,” added Holmes. “So, you don’t want to miss…I can’t wait.”
BEL-AIR premieres on Peacock this Sunday (Feb. 13), following the Super Bowl with three episodes at launch, and new episodes every Thursday. Watch the trailer for BEL-AIR below.