The West Philly native continues to make a splash in the second season of Bel-Air.
It’s not easy for any young actor to walk in Will Smith’s lofty shoes. But for a young Black actor who hails from West Philadelphia and has taken on Smith’s career-making role as Will, the West Philly born-and raised streetwise kid who gets sent off to a California mansion in the 1990s hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?“It definitely was daunting at first, but I have a great support system in my life that allows me to bring my true self to the role and has kept me grounded,” says Jabari Banks, the 23-year-old University of the Arts grad who’s added texture, grit and swagger to the role of Will in Peacock’s redux Bel-Air, which takes a darker view on Will’s complex journey. Now with its second season premiering on Feb. 23, Banks talks to us about playing such an iconic role and what he hopes to bring to this second season.
How does it feel to play such an iconic Philly role, originally made famous by another West Philly guy?
This has been a dream come true!
What are you most excited for in this second season?
I’m excited to explore the different interests of each character more and dig deeper into Will’s storyline. This season Will’s big focus is growing his independence while in Bel-Air as he builds back trust with his family and gets back on track with his basketball goals.
How do you think this iteration of the show has improved or changed upon the first? If not improved, then updated for more modern times?
The series feels more authentic to the actual journey a 17-year-old kid moving from Philly to Bel-Air would experience, while also honoring the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
What, if anything, do you hope to bring to the character this season more than the last?
I hope to bring more clarity to who Will actually is and show the difference between how he presents himself versus how he feels inside.
What are the top three things you love most about Philly?