'Black-ish' Creator Kenya Barris: "I'm Tired of Talking About Diversity"

The ABC comedy showrunner offered up an emotional answer to a question from a reporter about what percentage of the 'Black-ish' audience is African-American.
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'Black-ish' TCA Panel

Things got a bit heated during the Black-ish panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday afternoon.

When one reporter posed a question about what percentage of the ABC comedy's audience is African-American — and in the phrasing of his question, noted that there was initially "uncertainty about how [the show] was going to be received by the African-American community" and that Donald Trump had "weighed and tweeted something about it being racist" — during the broadcast network's last session of the day, the show's creator Kenya Barris did not hold back.

"I will be so happy when diversity is not a word. I have the best job in the world and I am constantly having to talk about diversity. I have the best actors. It's ridiculous," he said, carefully crafting his reply. "We're in a time when everything is about black and white, and this and that. We get opportunities and we are happy to be the people who can step up and say, 'We can do this.' But these are amazing actors. It doesn't matter who is watching our show. The fact is that they're watching it."

He went on to point out that he gets questions like this one often — and frankly, he's fed up. "I feel like every question at every panel … I'm so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all … and it's clouding the conversation."

Series star Tracee Ellis Ross, seated next to her co-star Anthony Anderson on the panel, then stepped in to ask the reporter, "Is that a question that you've asked other shows that are not predominantly of a certain color?" When the writer responded "not necessarily," Ellis politely offered this to the room full of press: "I think sometimes that those questions continue the conversation in a direction that does not help the conversation."

An emotional Barris also emphasized that the show — which recently nabbed three Emmy nominations (one each for Anderson and Ellis and then one for the series itself) — doesn't just focus on issues about race. "We're so divisive as a community and we always have to box everything in, and I kind of feel like, isn't it just a good family show? It's specifically about a black family, but don't you see yourself in it? Don't you see your family reflected in it? Why is that important who watches the show? Why does it matter? Why do we have to keep having these conversations? Why can't we just look at the show for what it is and celebrate these actors?"

Castmember Jenifer Lewis lightened the mood when she said to big laughs from the stage: "And nobody cares about what Trump thinks about anything!"

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