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Bel-Air's Olly Sholotan, Coco Jones, & Akira Akbar Put A Modern Spin On Carlton, Hilary, And Ashley – Exclusive Interview

I love the fact that you’re all playing these new versions of these iconic characters. Did you refer to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or consult with Will Smith or any of the original cast members when you were developing each of your characters?

Olly Sholotan: Funny enough, I remember when I got the initial audition, in very big bold letters was, “Do not copy the original at all whatsoever.” In trying to replicate any of those performances, we’re coming from a place of imitation rather than truth and honesty. When you take the beautiful, incredible script that [executive producers] TJ [Brady] and Rasheed [Newson] and Morgan [Cooper] have given us and you do it from a place of truth, authenticity comes out. The lifeblood of those characters is so in the story that I don’t …

Coco Jones: I definitely didn’t get that bold memo.

Sholotan: Dang. All right. That’s funny.

Jones: I definitely was heavily inspired in my audition by the OG Hilary. When I talked to Morgan and he was like, “No we want you to just be yourself, be confident, be driven,” I started to realize why Hilary is who she is. She comes from money. She lives this upscale life, but she’s really trying to make it on her own. That’s a huge separation that I did not put together when I was auditioning.

Akira Akbar: I feel like when I auditioned for Ashley, 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.

Sholotan: Also, we weren’t alive when the original was airing. [Laughs]

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