“Bel-Air” Comes to Atlanta In Recent Event on Clark Atlanta’s Campus

Last Wednesday, HBCU Buzz helped bring Peacock’s record-breaking original drama series “Bel-Air” to Atlanta through an exciting “Clips and Conversations” event with cast members Olly Sholotan and Cassandra Freeman and showrunner/executive producer/writer, Carla Banks Waddles. The event happened on Clark Atlanta University’s campus at the Davage Auditorium.

“Bel-Air” is a reimagined version of the beloved sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” set in the modern day. It’s told through the dramatic lens of Will and the Banks family as they navigate personal challenges and their family dynamic. 

Last year, in its first season run, the show became the most-streamed original series on Peacock. Coming off of such a successful first season, Waddles, Sholotan, and Freeman came out to CAU’s Davage Auditorium to promote season two and talk with AUCC students. 

“I just want to do a show that the Black community can be proud of, and look back and go, “I’m thankful that show was on the air,” Waddles said.  She said she wants “Bel-Air” to be reminiscent of the original series, in that it dives deep into timely topics and issues within the Black community. Topics such as mental health, social activism, father-son dynamics as well as the identity issues of being Black in America. 

During the Bel-Air: Clips and Conversations event, Waddles gave the scoop on how audiences will see these themes explored in season two. 

Doors opened at 4:00 pm, and students entered the stadium to take their seats. Before the event started, everyone took a moment of silence to acknowledge the fatal shooting of CAU student, Jatonne Sterling

Guest DJ Rayymon Beatz and influencer and event host, Paige Shari’ Addison worked the crowd and the CAU student media team was also on the scene, getting hands-on experience by helping set up and taking video of the event. Addison kept the energy going by testing the audience’s “Bel-Air” knowledge in a game of trivia. Students were able to win show merch including hoodies, hats, and pendants. 

Later, Waddles, Sholotan, who plays Carlton Banks on the show, and Freeman, who plays Aunt Viv, were all welcomed to the stage and the ‘Clips and Conversations’ began. Along with the audience, they watched five clips from season two and then gave insight into each scene. 

Sholotan shared how he relates to his character’s identity issues, as he has faced his own issues being a first-generation American who lived in Nigeria till age ten.  “Something that we really explore this season is Carlton’s relationship with his dad, Uncle Phil, and how he feels this shadow that Uncle Phil’s accomplishments have casted on his life, and as a first-generation American I think of this all the time,” Sholotan said. “My parents basically swam across the Atlantic for me to be here, so I have to be greater than great, and I think that’s a burden I would argue every single person in this room feels to a certain extent…if one person can watch our show and feel seen, and recognized and validated then I think we’ve done our job.”

Freeman’s character also faces some challenges this season as she strives to take her power back and reclaim her narrative as an artist. As a Black woman, Freeman said she relates to Aunt Viv’s struggles with other people trying to silence her. “A lot of this season is about how do you claim your own narrative even when people won’t give you the microphone?” the actress said. 

Freeman also gave uplifting advice to the students struggling to find their voice.

“Be patient in your twenties and allow life to reveal to you what your voice is because my greatest success, and those around me, is when you stop apologizing for who you are,” she said. “Stop apologizing, do you on purpose.”

After all the clips were shown, students got the chance to ask their questions for the cast and take pictures with them. 

Aspiring singer and actress, CAU freshman Kayah Brazil said she was grateful for the insightful advice the panelists gave. “It’s nice to hear from people who already made it to the position that you want to be in.” 

CAU senior, Gracen Fling said the event was “so much fun and so informative,” and will take the advice Freeman gave out to heart. “One of the things I picked up from Ms. Cassandra Freeman was not being afraid to take up space. I feel as though as Black women, we’re often encouraged to feel little and degrade ourselves in which we limit our own abilities. So I really appreciate her affirming us as Black women and telling us to take up space, because we deserve to.” 

The new season of “Bel-Air” is now streaming on Peacock with new episodes dropping Thursdays through April 27.

Fans can get even more of the record-breaking drama series “Bel-Air,” as Peacock recently announced that it has been renewed for a third season.