While in Los Angeles for the premiere of BIG HERO 6 I also had the opportunity to stop by ABC Studios and chat with the kids from the cast of “black-ish.” I also screened tonight’s episode “The Gift of Hunger.” The kids were an awesome bunch to speak with and I was really impressed with how down to earth they are.
About the Show
ABC’s new family comedy, “black-ish,” takes a fun yet bold look at one man’s determination to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family. The series stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and special guest star Laurence Fishburne.
Like any parents, Andre “Dre” (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) Johnson want to give their children the best. But their offspring’s childhood is turning out to be much different than theirs. They now realize at least two things: there is a price to pay for giving their children more than what they ever had, and these loving parents are totally unprepared for the fallout.
Dre considers himself the family patriarch and when he looks at his life – he sees a beautiful wife and four kids living happily in their colonial home in the ‘burbs. But when he looks a little closer — have the trappings of success brought too much assimilation for this black family? The world he sees has a much different lens than the one he would like his family to look through.
Coming up on “black-ish” Wednesday, November 12 (9:31-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“The Gift of Hunger”– After the kids turn their collective noses up at Dre’s favorite cheap restaurant in his old ‘hood, he decides it’s time to give them a reality check. He insists all of them get jobs. But when Andre Jr. and Zoey start working at his office, he can’t help but interfere, and Jack and Diane’s efforts to make some spare cash leave the neighbors thinking the family has fallen on hard times, much to Bow’s embarrassment, on “black-ish,”
I hope you tune in tonight to “black-ish” because it is a really funny show and deals with a lot topics facing today’s families. “The Gift of Hunger” is inspired by show creator Kenya Barris wanting to take his family to Sizzler.
Kids of ABC TV’s “black-ish”
What is it like being on set and working on the show?
Yara Shahidi: It is hilarious on set to be able to work with such amazing comedic veterans. It doesn’t feel like work, I get up in the morning and have a good time.
Marcus Scribner: Working on set is an amazing experience with the veteran actors like Yara said. It’s awesome to come to work everyday and learn something new from them, they are all comedic geniuses.
Marsai Martin: They are all kind of our acting mentors now and we feel like a real family. We do a lot of fun stuff and together we are unstoppable.
What was your favorite episode to work on?
Marcus Scribner: The pilot was such a fun experience, it was something new and we all bonded right away.
Are you like your character on the show?
Yara Shahidi: I am not close to my character Zoey, I spent my summer in Oxford taking two history classes. I like to read a lot and I am into Fashion.
Marcus Scribner: I play Lacrosse and basketball so I am pretty close to Andre, Jr. Some of the scenes that have happened to Andre, Jr. have happened to me.
Miles Brown: I am close to my character, I like to play basketball and sports.
Marsai Martin: I am really into Social Media and I am really perky. This is my first experience and so it is new to me. I like computers very much and I am sporty. I did gymnastics and cheerleading.
What do your friends and family have to say about all of this?
Yara Shahidi: They are extremely supportive and I’ve had teachers tell me how well they think the show is going and are tracking its progress. My family has been so supportive, my aunt posts something about the show to her friends almost everyday.
Marcus Scribner: My family is extremely supportive of the show. My grandmother is in sales and she talks to her clients about the product but then promotes the show. “I have this to sell you but guess what? My grandson is on this new tv show called “black-ish.”
Miles Brown: I’ve never been on anything as big as “black-ish” and they are extremely supportive and loved seeing the billboard.
Marsai Martin: My family is amazing, they call me and tell me that they have it on the DVR and all the TV’s are on in our family. Grandpa said that everyone in our family is watching “black-ish” and if they are not he will stalk them.
Kenya Barris, creator of “black-ish”
Can you explain what “black-ish” is?
“black-ish” is a word that we came up with for our character to explain that the world is a lot different now than when he was growing up. I have five kids, and I grew up in Inglewood and Compton. The world my kids are growing up in now is a lot different from when I was growing up. We are all blended into to a new layer of what america is and the world our kids are growing up in.
The show is based upon my family but we also ask the other writers their experiences for show ideas. I don’t see it as a black show, I think that it is a show with predominantly black cast members. We are a family.
ABC has been great working with us and we have a great time slot as well that we are doing very well in. We also pitched the show to several networks and all of them bought it but we went with ABC because they allowed us to produce an honest show.
Parents of the Kids on “black-ish”
Not only did we get the opportunity to interview the kids of “black-ish” but their parents were in the room with them and agreed to give us some of their time. It was an amazing opportunity to sit and talk for 30 minutes with the parents of child actors.
Are you always on set?
Yes, the teachers are great but we are on the set everyday or our significant other is here.
Was this something the kids sought out and wanted to do?
Carol Martin (mother to Marsai (Diane): We took her when she was four to have her picture taken and the photographer was directing her. He said that she was doing great and he suggested that she pursue acting and so we did.
Keri Shahidi (mother to Yara (Zoey): I am a commercial actress so it came from me. She was doing well as a commercial actress too and then received script for an Eddie Murphy movie; she did it and loved it.
Troy Scribner (father to Marcus (Andre, Jr.): I wanted Marcus to participate in sports and he tried but it didn’t work out as well as we had wanted. He then tried acting and love it. He works on his acting on the weekends too. He is so excited about everything in the industry but he is also an “A” student and wants to go to Stanford.
Jack Brown (father to Miles (Jack): He started as a dancer and was in the dance world and meet a lot of actors when he came to LA which then led to America’s Got Talent and a few appearances on TV. He never thinks about it as work because everyone keeps him humble. When he got the show he thought that he was only appearing once but then was so happy to hear that he was on the show full-time. The cast really is like a family.
How do you keep home life normal such as bedtime routines with all the craziness around them?
Carol Martin (mother to Marsai (Diane): We are still parents and they still have to clean their room and unload the dishwasher.
Keri Shahidi (mother to Yara (Zoey): They work hard and play hard, they enjoy traveling and doing interesting things. We do our best to try to make it happen for them.
Troy Scribner (father to Marcus (Andre, Jr.): This is a great group of kids, they love what they do. Marcus wakes up at 6:00 am, walks the dog and takes out our trash and the neighbors trash on trash day. He is just a fantastic kid, he just came out that way.
Did the context of the show such as the title ever worry you or dealing with any backlash?
Carol Martin (mother to Marsai (Diane): We had the script ahead of time so we knew what we were working with before anyone else did. We knew how great the show was and we were hoping that people would see what we saw in it. If it was inappropriate I would not have my child doing anything that I could not stand behind. Marsai hasn’t seen a network show that represents her, a show with someone she can relate too so we were excited about the show.
Keri Shahidi (mother to Yara (Zoey): This is our first experience on a show that had a touch of controversy. Yara realized that the vibe was different from when she appeared on Scandal (she played young Olivia Pope).
Troy Scribner (father to Marcus (Andre, Jr.) provided thoughts about the kids working on “black-ish” and how close they are.
Yara and Marcus (Zoey and Andre, Jr.) are very close and do their Algebra 2 homework together. Marsai and Miles are very close and they like to hang out on the weekend together. Everyone on the production of “black-sh” is very close and they all have families too.
“black-ish” airs on Wednesdays (9:31-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Disney sent me to Los Angeles to attend a presentation a press day and interview the cast of “black-ish.” My expenses were paid for the trip but no other compensation was paid and all opinions are my own.