What to Know About 'Bel-Air' 's Breakout Star Jabari Banks

Meet the talented newcomer taking on a modernized version of Will Smith's iconic role from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Peacock's new series

jabari banks
Photo: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Jabari Banks' life "got flipped-turned upside down!"

West Philadelphia born and raised, the 23-year-old actor is stepping into Will Smith's iconic shoes as the star of Peacock's newest series, Bel-Air, premiering on Feb. 13.

A modern, dramatized twist on the beloved '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Banks will make his onscreen debut as Smith's character – a young Black teen whose complicated journey is chronicled as he moves from the streets of Philly to a mansion in Bel-Air, California.

"I feel like Will is so close to me and my personal experiences. There are so many parallels between my life and his life. It feels as if it's not such a stretch as an actor," Banks told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is such a blessing to be able to play on this level and to be proof that dreams really do come true."

jabari banks
Kwaku Alston/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

While nabbing the role was an exciting surprise for Banks, the way he found out about the news came as even more of a shock – as he was told by Smith himself via Zoom!

"From the deepest parts of my heart, I want to say congratulations, you have the role of Will on Bel-Air," said executive producer Smith to his successor. "You've got a fantastic road ahead of you, and I'm looking forward to being an asset for you in this process as you build out your life and you build out your career."

Keep scrolling for fun facts about the talented newcomer ahead of the Bel-Air premiere on Feb. 13 on Peacock!

Jabari Banks attended drama school

jabari banks, SteVonté Hart
Clifton Prescod/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Banks is a 2020 graduate from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor's degree in musical theater. Although a precarious year for performing arts graduates, the actor told Women's Wear Daily that he used his time "couch surfing and auditioning" – ultimately leading to his first major role.

"If you want something, if you ask for it, God or the universe is gonna send it your way," Banks told the outlet. "It just depends who you are when your time comes; if you're ready. And so I made a big point to get ready and to stay ready for my time."

Jabari Banks has his sights on movies

jabari banks
Jabari Banks. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Though Banks landed a huge role right out of the gate, he told PEOPLE that he'd love for movie acting to be in his future. "I'm really interested in doing action movies and getting into my action bag," says Banks. "So that's going to be fun to do."

Jabari Banks is a musician

jabari banks
Eric Charbonneau/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Just like the original Fresh Prince himself, Banks has a passion for music creation, telling PEOPLE, "Music is coming out this summer for sure."

"He [Jabari] sings, he dances, he acts, he raps, and he plays basketball, which is what got him this role," Justin Lujan, the program director at the University of the Arts told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jabari Banks is a longtime fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

jabari banks, will smith
Jabari Banks and Will Smith. Eric Charbonneau/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

At 23 years old, Banks wasn't even born yet when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air premiered in 1990 — or when it wrapped in 1996! But thanks to his family's obsession with the series, the actor told The Guardian, "This show basically raised me."

"My family had the 6 season box set. So it was on repeat all the time," Banks told PEOPLE. "I remember The Fresh Prince was the first show I watched where I realized what entertainment was."

Jabari Banks has an interest in fashion

jabari banks
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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was significant for its '90s fashion and streetwear style, ranging from Smith's high-top Jordan sneakers to bold-colored sweaters – and you can rest assured that the fashion on Bel-Air falls no short of fresh.

Like his character, Banks has a passion for fashion as well and even has plans to release his own clothing line in the future. He told PEOPLE that he has big hopes for the next 10 years, saying, "I'm super excited to get into the whole fashion," adding, "I got my clothing line that's coming out as well."

Jabari Banks has unique hobbies

jabari banks
Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Though we haven't seen much of Banks just yet, as this is his first onscreen role, he's already proving to be a multi-hyphenate (in the most interesting and unique ways). In addition to creating music, acting, and telling PEOPLE, "I can juggle," he has a knack for cleaning as well.

"Another fun fact, I love to sweep. It's very calming for me," Banks said.

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