The hourlong series, based on Morgan Cooper’s popular fan film that re-envisions the original series, hails from Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Universal Television. It received a two-season order in September 2020. T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, whose credits include The Chi and The 100, serve as executive producers and co-showrunners. Morgan Cooper directs and serves as co-writer and executive producer.
Jabari Banks plays Will and as you can see in the video above, he’s wearing Jordan’s in homage to Smith’s character as Smith voices a dramatic reading of the original theme song.
Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air is a serialized one-hour dramatic analogue of the 90’s sitcom that leans into the original premise: 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.
T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, Executive Producers and Co-Showrunners, said that the series is a “coming-of-age” story that “celebrates the strength and love of the Black family”.
“We have stayed true to the original premise of the legacy series – Will’s life is turned upside down after he is forced to leave West Philly and lands in Bel-Air with its gated mansions and wealth, however, our new series brings Will and the Banks family into the world as we know it now. It’s been incredible to bring these iconic characters to life when you tap them into the cultural pulse of our time. The series was the fabric of so many of our upbringings, tied to memories and the joy of seeing ourselves represented on TV so it is important to us to pay respect to its legacy,” the duo said.
Morgan Cooper, Director, Co-Writer and Executive Producer added that in drama form, the team are able to “peel back the layers” of the characters in a way that you couldn’t do 30 years ago in sitcom form. “We’re able to go have tough conversations that challenge perspectives. At its core, Bel-Air is a celebration of the black experience through the perspective of a family,” Cooper added.
Alongside Banks, the series features Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa.
Exec producers also include Will Smith, Terence Carter, James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, Malcolm Spellman, Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy & Susan Borowitz.
Check out the teaser above.