Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET+

Meet Coco Jones, 'Bel-Air''s New Hilary Banks

The evolution is real.

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The dramatic reboot of the ‘90s classic sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-air titled Bel-Airpremiered Sunday night after the Super Bowl. The cast is filled with newcomers such as Jabari Banks who plays Will and longtime actors such as Coco Jones who plays Hilary Banks. But while Coco is not new to the game, people are still discovering her talent after breaking away from the Disney Channel.

The 24-year-old is on the path to greatness while following in the footsteps of other successful actresses who came from Disney Channel fame such as Zendaya and Raven-Symoné. Her role as Hilary shows her in a new light as a grown woman who is determined to find her independence outside of her family.

Get to know Coco below:

Coco Got Her Start on Disney

Coco began her career on the Disney channel at just 12 years old. After winning Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing” competition, she landed roles on the channel’s TV series such as So Random! and Good Luck Charlie. She also went on to star in the 2012 film Let It Shine alongside Tyler James Williams.

She Can Rap and Sing

The actress is also in her singing bag. She’s released singles like “Holla at the DJ” and “What I Said” which is from the film Let It Shine, but she can also spit a hot verse. While visiting The Terrell Show, which is a show where guests play a game of song association, Coco rapped Busta Rhymes verse in Chris Brown’s song “Look at Me Now.” She also likes to share videos of herself singing on TikTok.

She Believes Her Career was Stalled Because of Her Skin Color

While on The Terrell Show, she also addressed her career halting after achieving some success on the Disney Channel and citing the difficulties she faced being a dark-skinned Black woman. “I think it was just a matter of not the right team as well as not enough people pushing me to success through those barriers,” she said. “When I got these deals and things, etc. they weren’t catered to a Black girl. It was like, ‘you got this,’ but give it white. And I was like how though? I feel like they weren’t thinking how do we make this Black girl work, it was more so how do we make this formula work on this Black girl.”

Her Role as Hilary Banks in the Reboot Is Different from the Original 

The original Hilary Banks, played by Karyn Parsons, was a stylish, yet stuck-up, entitled daddy’s girl who for a long time depended a lot on her parent’s wealth. Coco’s version, however, shows Hilary as a more independent woman who is trying to make her own path, but still has the fashions on lock. Coco spoke with HuffPost about her evolved character.

“Hilary is grounded. She’s a hustler. She’s determined. She has all these ideas of how she wants her life to play out,” Jones said. “Regardless of what people say, regardless of what happens, she’s going to make that happen. I think that mainly Hilary is relatable, and she’s hardworking, she believes in herself and she’s confident. I think people will love that.”

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Featured image by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET+

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

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