Disclosure- I have been provided an all expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the Big Hero 6 movie premiere and ABC TV Event in exchange for coverage of these events. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you so much Disney and ABC TV!
When I went to Los Angeles last week I had the opportunity to meet the children and creator of ABC’s new hit comedy black-ish. Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t just a show for African Americans. This show really resonates with and is relate-able to many families of all different races in America today.
Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids and a colonial home in the ‘burbs. But has success brought too much assimilation for this black family? With a little help from his dad, Pops (Laurence Fishburne), Dre sets out to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family that honors their past while embracing the future.
black-ish stars Anthony Anderson as Dre, Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow, Yara Shahidi as Zoey, Marcus Scribner as Andre Jr., Miles Brown as Jack, Marsai Martin as Diane and Laurence Fishburne as Pops.
I was most impressed with just how well spoken and down to Earth all 4 of the child actors were. The were all very humble and Miles Brown and Marsai Martin who play twins, Jack and Diane, were so cute. They’ve become so much like family that they chose to sit in the same chair with each other during our interview instead of each having their own chair. The children all agreed that so far the pilot episode is their favorite but they also like the fantasy scene in their upcoming episode titled “The Gift of Hunger”. As a parent myself I really like “The Gift of Hunger” episode myself. It reminds me of an episode of The Cosby Show when Cliff was telling I think Theo that “you’re not rich, you have nothing, Mom and I are rich”.
Yara Shahidi (Zoey)-
“It is absolutely hilarious on set. Being able to work with all these comedic veterans is amazing. I feel like I am learning so much just from being on the set. It doesn’t even feel like work and that’s the weird part.”
“I am not very close to Zoey character-wise. I’m the kind of person always reading. I spent my summer in Oxford taking 2 history classes. I have to be reminded to use social media. We both are into fashion, but not the same fashion. Otherwise I am pretty different from my character.”
“What’s on the show is basically our lives.”
Marcus Scribner (Andre Jr.)-
“Working on set with all the veteran actors is just an amazing experience. It is awesome to come to work everyday and learn something new from them. Let’s be honest, they are all comedic geniuses. We all immediately bonded over working on the pilot.”
“I am pretty close to Andre’ Jr. I play lacrosse. I’ve played since I was in 2nd grade and I also play basketball. I feel like most of the conversations that have happened to Andre’ Jr. have happened to me.
“My family is extremely supportive of the show.”
Miles Brown as Jack-
“It feels like a family!”
“I’m into sports just like my character.”
“My family is proud of us. They get so excited when they see the billboards.”
Marsai Martin as Diane-
“Together we are unstoppable! We feel like a real family”
“I don’t have siblings. This is my first experience with siblings so this is new to me. I like computers very much. I’m pretty quirky and love social media. I am pretty sporty. I play gymnastics and I do cheerleading.”
“My grandpa said that “everyone in our family is watching black-ish or I’ll sock ’em!””
The Creator/Executive Producer, Kenya Barris:Photo credit: (ABC/Rick Rowell) KENYA BARRIS, creator/executive producer of “black-ish”
The idea for black-ish came from his own life. His wife’s name is really Rainbow like the character on the show and she is really a doctor, too. The show has universal themes, not just “black” issues. It is written to be relate-able with real problems that many people have. The ideas for episodes come from the writers’ own lives. Kenya went on to talk about how the world is a lot more homogenized then how it was when he grew up. He said there are no more “black” kids or “white” kids in America today, it’s all a blend.
“black-ish isn’t a “black” show just like Modern Family isn’t a “white” show. It is a show about a family that happens to be black.”
The Actors’ Parents:It was clear right away from talking to the parents of the child actors of black-ish just how humble and proud of their children they are. Legally (and emotionally) each child has to have a parent or guardian on set with them at all times. Both parents of all of the children are very involved in their careers. All 4 sets of parents have all become one big family. They look out for each other’s children and there are usually 4-6 parents on the set at all times. The parents mentioned how they have a say in their child’s wardrobe, story line, etc. and the writers have an open door policy. They receive the scripts beforehand to go over topics with their children that they might need to explain, like masturbation for one episode. Most of the jokes go over the heads of the younger two but sometimes the parents do have to explain some of the more adult content in an age appropriate way. I’ve never interviewed “stage parents” before so it was refreshing that these parents weren’t the stereotypical stage parents. They are all keeping their children grounded and humble by having them keep up with chores at home, going to school when they can (they are tutored on set when they can’t attend their regular schools), and living as normal of a life as possible. Great advice for anyone who has a child who wants to get in the business.
Bonus facts from Lindsey Shockley, black-ish writer:
– There are 11 writers on the show
– The writers are equally African American/non-African American
– Half of the writers are men and half are women
– There are 24 episodes scheduled for this season (YES!)
We also had the opportunity to tour and take pictures on the set of black-ish so be on the lookout for an upcoming post!
Black-ish is on ABC every Wednesday night at 9:30 pm/8:30 CT.