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New show 'Bel-Air' created by KC native, premieres on Peacock

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Posted at 11:05 PM, Feb 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 00:40:29-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In 2019, Kansas City native Morgan Cooper released a project months in the making. The director created his own reboot concept of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," making it a drama.

Millions of views later, after catching the eye of Will Smith, "Bel-Air" was picked up by Peacock for two seasons. Super Bowl Sunday, the series made a splash with the first three episodes.

“I was always telling people, Kansas City, we made this history together, and I feel like at its core, this will always be a Kansas City project," Cooper told KSHB 41 anchor Dia Wall.

When asked why he chose to reimagine this series, Cooper said it was because the show has "all these iconic characters."

“You think of Uncle Phil, portrayed by James Avery. Carlton, Aunt Viv, Hillary, Ashley. You just, you like them, and it’s also great that you see a multi-faceted Black experience,” he said.

The show tackles race, class, family dynamics and more through the lens of a young Black male. To capture the look and feel of Bel-Air, Cooper reached out to creatives in his hometown.

"Because it was so important for me to see, for the world to see, how bright particularly the Black artists in our city shine," Cooper said.

One of those artists is painter Jason Wilcox.

“They originally asked me to provide artwork for the Bel-Air mansion, the Banks mansion, but after that, they had a bigger role for me," Wilcox told KSHB 41. "They decided to ask me if I can provide artwork for a main character in the show who does art. Every time you see this person paint, that’s my artwork."

Cooper said it was a no-brainer to use his platform to create opportunities for people where he grew up.

"There’s a lot of Kansas City art in the show," he said. "Fine art, but also through the music as well, which is so incredibly dope for me because I’m a fan of what we make in Kansas City.”

The first few episodes are now available on Peacock, with new episodes dropping every Thursday. It's a dream come true for a guy who never forgot where he came from.

“I’m excited for the world to see this show, but it really did start in Kansas City, and I’m forever grateful for that,” Cooper said.