The Peacock series Bel-Air is an updated, edgier take on the classic '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Although the cast is different for Bel-Air, the basic premise remains essentially the same. One of the most wholesome relationships in the original series is between Will Smith and his cousin Ashley Banks (Tatyana Ali). Will acted as Ashley's protective older brother figure for most of the original series.
So who's the actress who plays Ashley Banks to Jabari Banks's Will Smith in the Bel-Air series? You've probably seen Akira Akbar before if you're a Marvel fan. Let's learn a bit more about the actress behind the new Ashley Banks!
Akira has already accomplished a lot in her career at such a young age.
Akira may only be 15 years old, but she's already had a major role in a Marvel film! The actress appeared in the 2019 hit film Captain Marvel as a young Monica Rambeau. Older Monica (played by Teyonah Parris) had a huge role in WandaVision and will also appear in the upcoming film The Marvels. Although nothing has been confirmed at this point, we can't help but wonder if Akira will appear as a young Monica again in a future Marvel film.
Before her big role on Bel-Air, Akira also appeared on This Is Us and the Robert Rodriguez-helmed Netflix film We Can Be Heroes. She also starred in the Freeform series Good Trouble. Akira posted on her Instagram in January 2021 that Netflix had ordered a part two to We Can Be Heroes, so we're assuming she'll return to work on that before or after filming Bel-Air Season 2!
Akira told Looper how she chose to approach her Bel-Air audition for Ashley Banks: "I brought a little bit of the original Ashley into this character, connecting with the other characters. I think I had a scene and it was with Will, and bringing their connection to the audition. I made it my own a little bit, but at the same time used a little bit of the original Ashley."
Akira also has a huge social media presence.
She spoke to TVInsider about how she felt Bel-Air updated Ashley's story for the modern age: "You know since Ashley's really young, with her being so woke, there's social media, you know that's how kids learn [nowadays]!"
Four episodes of Bel-Air have dropped so far, so it'll be interesting to see how Ashley's character factors into the new, upcoming episodes.
You can catch Akira as Ashley Banks in new episodes of Bel-Air on Peacock. Episode 5 drops on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, at 5 a.m. EST.