Jabari Banks (born August 2nd, 1998) is a 24-year-old American actor known for his role as Will Smith in the first season of Bel-Air (2022).
Though still fresh in the industry, it has become a known fact that Jabari Banks has come to stay. His part in Bel-Air, which is an adaptation of the ’90s shows The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is his first role on TV as a professional actor, and he landed a big role for his debut. The stellar performance by the young actor got only positive reviews from both critics and viewers.
How Old Is Jabari Banks Now?
Jabari Banks is currently 24 years old as he was born on August 2nd, 1998. He is a West Philadelphia-born and raised youngster taking the entertainment industry by storm with his freshly harnessed talent. The actor discovered his penchant for acting in his 11th grade in school while growing up in Philly. He then joined the theatre club in his school to hone his skills.
Those early years helped him decide on the career path to follow on time, and the experienced paid off for him in the future. To further make his dreams of becoming an actor a reality, he enrolled in the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jabari Banks thus graduated in 2020 with a degree in musical theater.
Graduating from a reputable art school was a big milestone, but it didn’t guarantee an outright flow of acting roles for the actor. Nevertheless, he kept on pushing until the spotlight finally found him in 2022, about two years after graduation.
Jabari Banks Started Acting at the Age of 22
Though he is currently 24 years old, the Philly-born actor was still 22 when he landed the role of Will Smith in the Peacock series Bel-Air. Banks made his onscreen professional debut on the TV series that featured other actors like Adrian Holmes, Cassandra Freeman, Olly Sholotan, Coco Jones, and Jimmy Akingbola, among others, to rave reviews. He made his move into the movie industry shortly after graduating from drama school in 2020.
His year of graduation didn’t make auditioning for a role easy as the Covid-19 pandemic swept over many cities of the world, but Banks didn’t relent. He kept surfing and auditioning for roles until he landed one and his debut had him hit the ground running. The role is a coveted one, and he grew up watching the original version of it. Thus, it was a piece of exciting news for him when he received the call to inform him he got the role.
According to the writer, he prayed and worked hard for all he has today. He particularly made sure he was ready for when God or the universe is ready to grant his wishes. From the obvious talent which he poses, it is safe to conclude that Jabari Banks won’t be a one-movie wonder.
He told PEOPLE that he is willing and enthusiastic to explore the movie industry and also carve a permanent career from it. Also, he already has a preference in terms of the kind of movies he wants to be associated with, and it’s not high school related. “I’m really interested in doing action movies and getting into my action bag,” he told PEOPLE.
Obviously, as Jabari Banks gets older, we might be seeing him in more movies, especially action and thrillers.
Jabari Banks’s Character in Bel-Air is a 16-Year-Old
Just before he turned 23 years of age, Jabari Banks depicted the role of Will Smith in Bel-Air, and interestingly, his character was just 16 years old. The age difference notwithstanding, Jabari made a convincing outing with the role. His manner of speaking and action exudes the aura of a teenager, and it’s hard to believe he is one day older than the age he played in the TV series.
On the show, Will Smith is a 16-year-old from West Philadelphia whose mother sent him to live in Bel-Air with his rich relatives in order to escape the wrath of a thug back home. The young black teenager is full of life and has great dreams as a basketball player and escaping the rough streets of Philly to live in a mansion in Bel-Air is a huge step he has to take to actualize his dreams. He was reluctant to go at first but once he blended into the life of luxury, leaving wasn’t an option anymore.
The role saw Banks step into the iconic shoes of the legendary Will Smith, who played the same role in the original ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Speaking about his role on the show, Jabari Banks expressed his connection to the character of Will as he believes they share a lot in common.
“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.
Getting the main role in the popular show was a big milestone for Banks, and to cap it all, Will Smith himself was the one who informed him of his success at the auditions. Smith spoke to the young actor via a Zoom call, and the excitement was one Banks wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Will Smith was around Jabari Banks’ age when he played the role in the ’90s.
The actor was 22 when the show first aired in 1990, but he was probably still 21 when filming commenced on the show before his September birthday. Also, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was also Will Smith’s debut TV role, the same as Jabari Banks. One thing is for sure, both actors left a good impression on producers, critics, and viewers.