Coco Jones is one of those rare talents that only comes by once in a blue moon. Many might recognize her from her Disney Channel beginnings with So Random! and Let It Shine, but her career has been looking bright ever since.
With her new EP What I Didn't Tell You making a rumble on the music charts and Season 2 of Bel-Air hitting Peacock, I caught up with the multi-hyphenated star to chat about series expectations, celebrity guests, and the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor she'd love to have on the show.
1. What has been the most challenging and rewarding part about playing Hilary Banks?
The challenging part has been balancing music and acting. Hilary's very similar to me, so I don't feel like it's really difficult to like channel those things that make Hillary, Hillary. The most rewarding part is representation for dark skinned Black women. Being able to be the new model of being classy, and getting to wear amazing outfits — I just feel like it's positively impacting the next young girl who looks like me, who wants to be able to do these things.
2. The conversation shifted from Season 1 where audiences were nervous to see the reimagining of this classic sitcom to anxiously awaiting for Season 2 to arrive. How did that make you feel to help end the doubt surrounding the series?
I feel honored! Honestly, it's such a amazing opportunity to get to take something so nostalgic and make it modern, and actually do it in a cool way. I really feel honored.
3. Describe your mindset going into Season 2 after such a successful debut season.
In my mind, I was a lot more comfortable, because we already had the support of our culture, and that's who we make the show for. I just wanted to continue to give my all to the character, and continue to find new ways to make her captivating.
4. “Belonging” has always been one of the main themes of the show and the original for me. Whether it be in a new place, within your family, or even your own culture. Why do you think that topic that still deserves to be discussed in 2023?
I think because it can appear, especially on social media, like things are a lot better than they really are. What we like to do with Bel-Air is to show the real, the raw, and the uncut. That's important, because just because you come from this upper-echelon background doesn't mean you're not dealing with those same problems that every human has. That vulnerability is what makes people feel seen, and heard, and normal.
5. In Season 2, Hilary battled with finding her passion. Now that she’s found her niche, we see her battle with finding her voice. These are both very relatable aspects of growing up. Was there ever a time where you felt like you lost your voice or passion, and how did you gain it back?
Yeah, there were definitely times where I felt my passion was dwindling. I really think it was just all of the rejection that kind of pushed me towards being discouraged. I honestly dealt with it by weighing the pros and cons. If I did give up and if I did start something else could, I live with the what-ifs that come with that? And ultimately, I could not.
6. How would you describe your transition from a child star to an adult working in the industry?
Hard! Because it's this "Where do I fit in?" question that does not get answered in the timing that you want. And of course, being a Black woman, it's like okay, how should I do my hair now? Am I wearing too much makeup or not wearing enough? A lot of uncertainty came with my transition from child actor to adult actor, but, honestly, that's what comes with coming-of-age...it's just everything's in front of the camera.
7. Executive producer Rasheed Newson said season 2 will focus on “rebuilding.” Describe Will’s mindset this season and how that plays into the aspect of “rebuilding.”
I don't really know if rebuilding is the word, specifically for Hillary, as much as it is "building" — building this new brand as house manager of the influencer house, and the CEO, as well as building her relationship with Jazz.
8. Tatyana Ali makes an appearance in Season 2. What was it like working with the original Ashley Banks?
Well, technically. I didn't get to work with her. I didn't have any scenes with her, but I loved getting to see that on screen. Maybe next season Karen Parsons can come and me and her can have that type of wow moment. She did an amazing job in the storyline for her and Ashley! It was just so beautiful to see. I can't wait for the audience to see more.
9. Did she offer any advice or share any words of wisdom while on set?
I did have a couple of brief engagements with [Tatyana]. I actually got to talk to Karen Parsons before. She told me she's very picky, but she loves what I've done with Hilary, and how I've spun her, and made her into this whole different moment.
10. Saweetie is also in Season 2. What’s something you learned about Saweetie that might surprise people?
Sweetie is super cool! We did get to talk while we were filming our scenes. She actually reminds me of Hillary a lot! She is very creative, in charge of her socials, and comes up with content. She told me she manages herself, so I'm really impressed with the boss energy. And I think she speaks to that a lot, as well as her high standards for herself. and I just live for it! Of course her and Hilary would be best friends in the storyline. As co-artists, I feel like we have a lot of really dope, similar mindsets.
11. What was your favorite behind-the-scenes memory with the cast?
Our impromptu freestyles, which are way more frequent than our normal ones. They're always so hilarious, because Cass (Cassandra Freeman), she'll come and just ruin it [laughs], because she does not know how to freestyle. But we love her so it's okay.
12. Okay, well now I have to know...who's the best from the cast?
Jabari is very good! Then, humbly, I'm pretty nice. Not even gonna hold you,
13. Music has always been a love of yours. Did you ever feel like you had to choose between pursuing music and acting?
I really didn't have to choose...life chose for me. There were times where acting was just more prevalent than music. And then there were times where all I was doing was just writing songs and figuring out what I wanted to say as an artist. So, it was really just an ebb and flow kind of situation.
14. When it comes to acting and singing, how do the two artistic outlets fulfill you individually?
On one regard, music is like so comfortable that it feels kind of like home to me and acting can be challenging because it makes me uncomfortable at times.
15. Lastly, what do you hope fans take away from this new season?
I hope that they continue to feel obsessed with each of our characters and our storylines. I hope they continue to feel represented well, and I hope they continue to want more!