‘Bel-Air’ Embraces Echoes With a 100-Year-Old Langston Hughes Poem in New Clip

April Parker Jones — who plays Will’s mom on the dramatic Fresh Prince reboot — recites Hughes’ 1922 piece, “Mother to Son”

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Bel-Air, the dramatic reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has tapped star April Parker Jones to recite Langston Hughes’ 1922 poem “Mother to Son” in honor of its 100th anniversary. 

In the show, Jones will play Viola, mother of Will, who sends her son from West Philadelphia to Bel-Air, hoping he can carve out a safer, more fruitful life there. That element of the show’s core conceit echoes the themes in Hughes’ poem, and Jones delivers an emotional performance over footage from the new series: “So boy, don’t you turn back/Don’t you set down on the steps/’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard/Don’t you fall now—/For I’se still goin’, honey/I’se still climbin’/And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

Bel-Air came about after cinematographer Morgan Cooper created a fake trailer that reimagined the hit Nineties sitcom as a drama series. The clip earned praise from Will Smith and was quickly adapted into a real show, with Cooper now serving as a co-writer and director. 

The first three episodes of Bel-Air will premiere Feb. 13 on Peacock, with new episodes released weekly. The show will star Jabari Banks as Will Smith, Adrian Holmes and Cassandra Freeman as Will’s aunt and uncle Phillip and Vivian, Olly Sholotan as Carlton, Coco Jones as Hilary, Akira Akbar as Ashley, and Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey. 

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