Executive Producer and Director, Bel-Air
Morgan Cooper is a Los Angeles-based writer and director with a unique voice, clear vision, and a passion for every aspect of storytelling. Cooper’s influences range from fine art, jazz, and hip-hop, to the works of photographers Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava. His Midwest roots and experiences growing up in Kansas City, Missouri resonate throughout his work.
Cooper is the creative force behind the hit television series Bel-Air. The series, which is a dramatic reimagining of the beloved ‘90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was born from a visionary short film Cooper released that quickly took the internet by storm. After garnering the attention of millions across the world, Will Smith and his production company Westbrook Studios came on board with Cooper as collaborators. The ten-episode first season, which saw Cooper serving as creator, director, co-writer and executive producer went on to become the most watched original streaming series in the history of the Peacock.
Cooper is a two-time Tribeca X winner for his feature U Shoot Videos? and short film Pay Day, each earning the top prize for their respective categories at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Cooper also created a series titled Black Coffee. In the series, after an injury derails his chances of going pro, a former basketball star from Kansas City becomes a national barista champion. He decides to move back home and open a coffee shop in his old neighborhood, hoping to revitalize the community through his passion. Cooper serves as writer, director, and executive producer, alongside producer Gabrielle Union and her I’ll Have Another banner for Sony Pictures Television. Cooper is committed to combining art with purpose by using his voice as a filmmaker to positively impact society. When he looks back someday on his career, Cooper hopes he will have helped inspire the next generation of artists to create fearlessly.
Morgan Cooper not only reimagined one of the most beloved TV shows of all time, but he did so while uplifting marginalized voices and showcasing various forms of onscreen diversity. In his reimagination of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Cooper confronted the issues of racism and colorism in Hollywood, being intentional about the casting process as well as the lighting and camera equipment needed to highlight the full spectrum of Black and Brown skin tones. The result? A smash hit that gives an honest portrayal of the Black experience.
In this conversation, Cooper shares his approach to storytelling and his passion for inspiring the next generation of filmmakers, while shedding light on issues such as code-switching, cultural appropriation, and the class divide between the haves and have-nots - topics he addresses in the show. Audiences will walk away with a new understanding of the change that is necessary in order to bring more positive stories about diverse communities to life onscreen and throughout the media.
You might guess that Peacock’s most-watched original streaming series BEL-AIR was an idea birthed in a corporate boardroom. Or developed as part of a studio’s big strategy. In reality, the idea for the show came to Morgan Cooper when he was driving around in his hometown of Kansas City. The self-taught filmmaker then quickly turned the idea into a short film so compelling that it caught the attention of Will Smith who helped bring his vision to life.
In telling his story, Cooper shows audiences that creativity can spark anywhere and discusses how to turn that spark into true opportunity. He leaves audiences inspired by his message that when you believe in yourself and choose to step into discomfort, great things will follow.