How Bel-Air Is Bringing Back Two OG Stars From Will Smith’s Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

Jabari Banks on Bel-Air
(Image credit: Peacock)

Bel-Air, the dramatic “reimagining” of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is moving right along within its first season. While the show is managing to blaze its own trail, it still holds the values that were present on its beloved predecessor. In other words, there’s plenty for both generations of viewers to love. Now, fans of the original will be excited to hear that the show is welcoming two stars from Will Smith's classic sitcom in an upcoming episode. 

Peacock has confirmed that Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alums Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson will guest star on the ninth episode of Bel-Air. On the ‘90s show, Maxwell Reid starred as Vivian Banks, following the departure of OG star Janet Hubert. Meanwhile, Watson-Johnson played Will Smith’s mother, Viola “Vy” Smith, a role she held throughout all six seasons of the show. On the drama, Maxwell Reid and Watson-Johnson will appear as Helen and Janice, respectively. Both characters will be members of the Art Council Board of Trustee. Fans can expect their installment to air on March 24.

Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson on Bel-Air

(Image credit: Peacock)

The saviest of Fresh Prince fans may notice that actresses’ roles actually pay homage to the classic sitcom. On that program, Aunt Viv had three sisters, with Vy being one of them. The other two were named Helen and Janice, both played by Jenifer Lewis and Charlayne Woodard, respectively. The names are small details but serve as clear evidence that the writers and producers of the series are fans of NBC’s comedy hit. 

During an interview I did with her, Daphne Maxwell Reid spoke to that “iconic” status. However, she also shared some thoughts on Bel-Air, which had yet to make its streaming debut at that point. At that point, she admitted that she found the idea of a dramatic revamp to be “interesting.”

It’s hard not to love the fact that the drama has opted to bring in some familiar faces. Though the two stars are not playing the same characters, their inclusion still creates a sense of continuity between both shows. One would hope this means we’ll see other OG stars on the show as it continues its run. And there are few in particular that I wouldn’t mind seeing. 

Will Smith, who helped get the project made, would be great to see, though one wonders if he’d have the time to make a substantial appearance. The same could be said for the always-working Alfonso Ribeiro, who originated the role of the dancing Carlton Banks. I’d personally love to see him come face to face with his successor, Olly Sholotan, who’s been responding to haters as of late.

In the meantime though, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson’s characters have on this season. One would think the producers wanted to give them roles of substance in their returns to the franchise. So hopefully, they both manage to leave a solid mark.

Bel-Air drops new episodes on Thursdays, so you’ll want to make sure you have a Peacock subscription to tune in. Also, don’t hesitate to head on over to CinemaBlend’s 2022 TV schedule to see what else is coming up this year.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.