10:25am PT by Liz Isenberg
'Black-ish' Cast, Larry Wilmore Talk Breaking Down Barriers and Trevor Noah Controversy
The cast and creator of the ABC comedy Black-ish gathered Friday night at a “For Your Consideration” event to celebrate the show’s freshman season. The night’s festivities included a panel moderated by Larry Wilmore (who helped develop and write the first half of the season before moving over to The Nightly Show), a screening of the April 22 episode, and a meet-and-greet with the cast, including leads Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross.
At the beginning of the panel, Wilmore asked creator and executive producer Kenya Barris about the inspiration behind the show’s unique title. “I looked at my kids and they were not the idea of what I thought ‘black’ was growing up. They’re a little bit filtered — they’re ‘black-ish,’” said Barris. “They skateboard and surf! They didn’t exactly follow my journey of what being ‘black’ was. All their friends are Asian, Jewish and Latino and they’re a little bit more black, so they’re also a version of ‘black-ish.’ It’s an additive and a subtractive. That’s what our country is right now. We’re ‘Asian-ish’ and ‘Latino-ish.’ We’re all in a melting pot.”
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Ross — who had known Barris before joining the cast of Black-ish — talked about her reaction to the pilot. “The thing that was so compelling about this material was that it was the first time I really felt Kenya totally use his voice,” she said. “It was just him and it jumped off the page. It was so bold, but didn’t feel irreverent. It felt truthful.”
On the red carpet, Anderson and Barris talked about TV’s movement toward more diverse shows after the success of programs like Black-ish. “It feels great to be at the forefront,” Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter. “There were other shows ahead of ours that opened up the door for us, and for us to be here right now breaking down more barriers and opening up the doors for more minorities and more diverse characters to be on television is something special to be a part of.”
Barris was cautiously optimistic. He told THR, “What I don’t want to be is a fad, because I think that we’ve all worked too hard. ABC has given us a great platform to create an amazing show that happens to have black characters and is absolutely about a black family. Sometimes you just have to kick the door open and you need one thing to start another thing, so I’m happy that we could be a part of that movement.”
Before the panel, Wilmore also spoke with THR about the recent Twitter controversy surrounding Jon Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah. “I haven’t even met Trevor Noah yet, but I think he’s going to be fine,” Wilmore told THR. “All that is going to blow over. And like Jon said, people are either going to embrace him or they won’t. That’s how television works. He can really go out and prove himself even more now because it’s hard to follow Jon Stewart.”
Catch Black-ish on Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC.