'Bel-Air': Cassandra Freeman, Coco Jones, and Akira Akbar on Character Development in Season 2 (Exclusive)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans were pleasantly surprised by the dramatized versions of their favorite characters from the 90s hit sitcom in Peacock's Bel-Air. With Season 2 approaching, viewers are anxious to see how the ladies of the Banks family will keep things moving. The revitalization introduced viewers to an astute yet down-to-earth version of Aun Viv, played by Cassandra Freeman. In Season 2, she breaks free from her politician husband's shadow and enters into her creative world. But as she shines, someone from her past threatens to ruin it all.
Coco Jones' rendition of Hilary is a stark contrast from the disty character in the original. But the one thing that's consistent between the two is her great sense of fashion, and she remains a daddy's girl. In Season 1, she clashed with Aunt Viv over the direction, or perceived lack thereof, in her life. This time around, she's proving she can hold her own, and is teaching her mother a thing or two along the way.
Then there's the baby of the bunch, Ashley Banks, played by Akira Akbar. Creator Morgan Cooper promises that a lot more of Ashley will be seen this season. Last year, she confided in big sis Hilary about some important feelings she had about dating. This season, she comes into her own.
Ahead of the Feb. 23 premiere, PopCulture spoke with the three ladies about all that's expected in Season 2. Check out the full video interview on our YouTube channel.
PC: So, congratulations on Season 2. Cassandra, I will start with you. Now as the third iteration of Aunt Viv, the fans have received your portrayal positively. What do you think about your version resonates so well with viewers?
CF: Girl, I mean, listen. I don't know. I can only tell you what they say on my Twitter feed. I think maybe when I stepped into this role, it wasn't until the night before the show came out that it occurred to me that people would judge it and compare it, and that's when I got panic attacks. So I'm just so grateful that Morgan Cooper, on day one, was like, "These are your shoes to fill." And the main thing I wanted was to make her feel like she was like someone that you actually know. I didn't want her to feel like she's so far removed and in Bel Air. I was like, "Wouldn't it be great if she was still that girl from Philly, but she just happens to be surrounded by abundance? She didn't forget about where she came from?" And I think that really works well. So I think the real thing too is that when Will shows up and he does a Philly thing – He talks in this very Philly-esque way. Instead of her being like, "We don't do that here," she was like, "Ah, there's that Philly swag. I've been missing that." And I know the first season, so many people talked about how that resonated with them. So I'm sure it's a lot of the writing, and I think it's me just trying to be authentically like grounded.
PC: Now, Coco, your fans are also loving your version of Hillary, and last season we saw her really step into her own as far as really embracing who she is career-wise. But Hillary can also be a bit stubborn, especially in regards to how she relates to Aunt Viv, how does their relationship grow in season two?
CJ: I think in Season 2, it's a very pleasant surprise that Hillary gets to, in a way, say, "I told you so" to her mom because in season one, Aunt Viv was so pressed about what Hillary was trying to do with her career, but now it seems like Hillary's go-getter and just take that leap of faith in your passion mindset really rubs off on Aunt Vivian in a great way. And I think it's cool that Hillary gets to show her mom a bit about her job. Like, "Let me show you how to create an artist page and grow your engagement and your followers." It was a full circle moment where they really get to see eye to eye.
PC: And for you, Akira, in Season 1, we saw Ashley exploring dating and whether or not. She was really exploring her sexuality as well. How relevant do you feel as if that subject matter is as far as the conversation that's happening in real time, and how do we see that play out in season two as well?
AA: I think it's important to show representation, especially on screen. And for people watching that are Ashley's age, it's important for them to realize that they aren't alone because dating pretty much at that age is very common now, and so they can feel like they see themselves on screen basically.
PC: And collectively, what are you guys most excited about viewers seeing in Season 2?
CF: Episode 6, I keep saying that all day, Episode 6. I'm so excited for people to see Episode 4. I'm excited for people to see too. I think it's so juicy.
CJ: I'm really just excited for fans to get what they've been asking for, which is more drama, more of a continuation of the cliffhangers. I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised. Of course, they're going to be shocked, and they're going to be asking for more.
CF: And they're going to have that nostalgia feeling. They're going to get those Easter egg moments that they love, and they're going to get some shocks, some real shocks and some other great cameos as well.0comments