'Bel-Air' Star Jabari Banks Supports Will Smith: 'I'll Stick With Him' (Exclusive)
By Tionah Lee
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Bel-Air star Jabari Banks is sticking by Will Smith. The 23-year-old actor praised Smith, who was the first to play the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after his big win at the 2022 Oscars, which came after he shockingly took the stage and slapped Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
At Vanity Fair's annual Oscars after-party on Sunday, Banks called Smith's acceptance speech "incredible."
"It’s what he said, you have to protect your family," Banks said in praise of the 53-year-old actor. "I believe in him, and what he stands for. He’s a standup guy. I’ll stick by him."
As for the incident between Smith and Rock, Banks would not comment on the matter but chose rather to celebrate the King Richard star's win. "When he won it, it was such an emotional moment in general,” Banks said of Smith winning his first Oscar. "I knew it was him. I already said, it’s already written. I believed it and he manifested it. And his work has proved it throughout the years. He deserved it."
Smith’s win was personal for Banks, a Philadelphia native, who has reprised Smith’s classic role on Bel-Air. "The fact that I’m an extension of this legacy is such an amazing opportunity and such an amazing honor," Banks shared. "The fact that I could see him express those emotions in front of the whole world, it’s so endearing.”
Banks also told ET that Smith has taken him under his wing and given him some important advice when it comes to navigating show business. "He said something that really stuck with me. He said, ‘Don’t let the success get to your head. Don’t let the failures get to your heart.'"
Banks and the rest of the Bel-Air cast are riding the success of the Peacock series. "It's an incredible honor,” he said of the fan reactions to the series. "There was definitely skepticism about this show before it came out but the fact that it was received with so much love from our community and from the world, it meant the world to me.”
As for another season, Banks promises there’s more to come. “Season 2, we’re gonna elevate the whole situation,” he told ET. “I hope you’re ready.”