“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was one of the most popular sitcoms of the kids and teens of the 90s that ran on NBC for six seasons. It is a classic rags-to-riches story that grasped the essence of the decade but still manages to remain timeless. With its quick humor, relatable characters, and memorable theme song, the show continues to make new generations of fans laugh just like we did back then But,

Is “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”  Based On A True Story?

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is loosely based on a true story. There are two people whose stories influenced the show. The first man is the Warner Bros. producer Benny Medina, and the second one is the man himself, Will Smith. 

While it’s not a biopic series with a full and historically accurate representation of one’s life, the core of this series is largely inspired by true events. More on that to come…

Is “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Based On Will Smith’s Life? 

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is not entirely based on Will Smith’s life. However, there are elements in the series that are indeed true. 

The true aspects of Will’s life and character that are captured in the show are obviously his name, his enormous love for hip-hop, and the place where he was born and raised – West Philadelphia. Will Smith’s real-life music partner DJ Jazzy Jeff was introduced into the cast to play the role of Will’s best friend.

While that’s all that connects the fictional Will to the real one, the story behind this connection is quite interesting. In his book, Will Smith talks about his meeting with the producer Benny Medina and Quincy Jones and their conversation about his role in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. 

Will says that they recognized his acting talent through his music videos and invited him to a party in Jones’ house in Bel-Air. There, they offered him the role and made him audition for it in the house, at the party. With not much time to get ready, Will did a great job and was cast for the series. 

After that, they discussed the location of the show and the place where Will’s character would come from. Here is a part of Will’s book where he talks about that particular moment when he answered that question:

“‘Philly,’ I said with the requisite swag and pride that Philadelphians use to make sure you know that our city is better than yours,” then, “[Jones said,] ‘OK, that’s it, it’s perfect: Your character’s from Philly. Will from Philly! Then he goes to Bel-Air!’” 

Who Is The Real Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? 

Benny Medina is the real fresh prince of Bel-Air. He is the man whose childhood was an inspiration for writing the popular sitcom series.

Benny Medina is an executive producer who was one of the biggest reasons why “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was created. He didn’t have a family and as a teenager moved to a white family’s house in Beverly Hills.

He was an Afro-Latino kid used to a different culture and ways of living – something that came to light when faced with the lifestyle of the rich in Beverly Hills. 

It’s not the exact same story as in the show, but the general idea is the same. The showrunners decided to make little changes in the series in order to make the best possible mixture of comedy and drama and highlight some details that weren’t very mainstream at the time.

By swapping the host family and having Will live with his wealthy aunt Vivian in the series, the producers of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” managed to subtly talk about some deep themes like race and ethnicity.

They were able to tell a story about a young black man who tried to escape his previous hard life and become a better and more successful individual. A story that still matters to a lot of people.

Why Is Will Smith Called Will Smith In “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”?

Interestingly, Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks) was the reason behind the decision to create a fictional version of Will Smith. 

This is another fascinating story about the making of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. In the previous part of the article, we learned how Will got the role and learned if “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was based on Will Smith’s life. 

In his book, Will mentions that his colleague and co-star from the series, Alfonso Ribeiro, advised him to name his character Will Smith. According to Will, this choice established the name everyone would use to call him in the future. 

And that’s really good advice when you think about it. Nobody calls Alfonso by his real name when they see him. Nearly everyone calls him Carlton. Just as it’s the case with any actor who has one popular role that everyone knows about. 

Was The Sad Scene Between Will and Uncle Phil Real? 

The scene isn’t real and Will is not referring to his real father. He just managed to reach a new pinnacle in his acting career and showed his talent to the whole world.

There are many rumors about how in the emotional scene between Will and Uncle Phil, Will’s emotions were real because he thought of his father. However, this isn’t true because Will’s father was present during the actor’s childhood.

Will Smith’s father was a U.S. Air Force veteran and later an owner of a refrigeration business. Once, Will recalled a moment when he and his younger brother had to build a wall for their father’s shop saying:

“When my father got out of the Air Force, he started his own refrigeration business. I might have been 12 and my brother 9 when one day he decided he wanted a new front wall at his shop. He tore the old one down — it was probably 16 feet high and 40 feet long. And he told us that this was going to be our gig over the summer. We were standing there thinking, There will never, ever, be a wall here again.”

So, unlike Will’s father on the show, who was never around, his real father was there and supported him in everything he did.

Final Thoughts on The True Stories Behind “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

Seeing Will Smith’s character in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” having the same name as the actor may be confusing and lead fans to believe that the series is based on a true story. While there is some truth to it and there are some small similarities between the two Wills, this is just a fictional show with a beautiful, well-crafted story.

Anyway, what may come as news to many is the fact that the true inspiration for the NBC TV series is based on the life of executive producer, Benny Medina. Not everyone knows about him and learning how he wanted to turn his hard childhood into a hilarious and entertaining TV show is truly interesting.

With inspiration from Will and Benny’s real life story, the producers successfully created a unique show that has a story of its own. A story called “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” – one of the most popular sitcoms ever.