Currently in its seventh season, the multi-award-winning comedy series, Black-ish is now available on Star on Disney+. In an exclusive interview, the show’s star Anthony Anderson gives us the lowdown on what he really thinks about the show.
Starring Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson, Black-ish takes a fun yet bold look at one man’s determination to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family.
Supported by a superb cast including Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, Marcus Scribner as Andre Johnson Jr., Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson, Laurence Fishburne as Pops, and Jenifer Lewis as Ruby, the show is known for tackling big issues such as systemic racism, the movement for social justice and equality as well as marital and parental issues that we can all relate to.
UK viewers can now enjoy season 1-5 of the NAACP award winning and Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series on Star on Disney+. Ahead of the launch, we talked to comedy icon Anthony Anderson, to hear his thoughts about the show and the character he plays.
Do you feel any pressure in how you play a Black father figure on prime-time TV?
No, I don’t feel any pressure in portraying a Black father on prime-time television at all. We come in all different sizes, all different shades, all different colours, all with a different perspective. The only pressure I feel is to do what I’m supposed to do and tell the story that I’m supposed to tell, that’s relevant to me and specific to me. That’s what this character and our show is all about. It’s specific to the stories that we’ve encountered in our lifetimes. So that’s the only pressure that I feel, to tell the most comedic stories as Andre Johnson. There weren’t any pressures on Damon Wayans when he was portraying his character on My Wife and Kids or Bernie Mac when he did the Bernie Mac Show or Bill Cosby on the Cosby Show or John Amos on Good Times or Sherman Hemsley on The Jeffersons. These are specific characters that they were playing specific to who they were in the situations that they were in.
“… that’s the only pressure that I feel, to tell the most comedic stories as Andre Johnson.”
We love the dynamic between Rainbow and Dre, what’s your favourite storyline showing their relationship?
Their relationship is an extremely important part of the show. Tracy would agree that most situation comedies about Black families and relationships was always found in the situation between the families being at odds or not liking each other. Ours is the complete antithesis of that. Our comedy is founded on the love in which we share with one another. And yes, we may have misunderstandings, but they are honest misunderstandings and the common denominator that we have is love and trying to raise these beautiful children. Rainbow being an independent woman in the world that she lives as a doctor and Andre being who he is in the advertising world and them coming together. That’s what it’s about. The relationship that she and I have and the chemistry that she and I have is undeniable.
Of your five children on the show, who’s character is most like you, and why?
I’m going to say Marsai Martin’s – Diane, just because she’s evil [he laughs]. It’s not a mean evil, it’s kind of like a crazy, mad scientist type of thing. I’m like, ‘I get why you feel that way’, but I wouldn’t go about it that way, but I understand why you’re doing it’. Diane’s character is most like me in real life, or I am more like her character, I should say.
“Diane’s character is most like me in real life, or I am more like her character, I should say.”
We loved the storyline about Junior wanting to quit college to go work with Migos. Did you have any interesting jobs in college?
My entire collegiate career was interesting. I went to Howard University and I showed up with $900 in my pocket with nowhere to stay or live. I only knew one person in Washington DC. So, my day one college experience was put to the test. It taught me how to survive, it taught me how to hustle, it gave me a lot of life lessons that I use to this day in real life and in this industry. And I wouldn’t change that experience for the world. It’s made me the man that I am today.
Would you say that the show is a great way to introduce American Black History to the rest of the world?
I’ve never really thought about the impact that the show has on the rest of the world. These are stories that we’ve lived, and we’ve experienced in real time. What makes our show resonate with the world is that it’s authentic. The authenticity comes through because we tell these stories through the eyes of the characters. What’s important to us is that we are true to who we are and true to who these characters are. And hopefully there is a common denominator that people can take from these stories and be able to say, ‘oh wow, I may not be African American, but I can understand that I had that same experience’. ‘His experience is not unlike my experience’. So that’s our common denominator, we are one and the same.
“What makes our show resonate with the world is that it’s authentic.”
Where do you see the show going, in terms of storyline?
We just want to continue telling these authentic stories as honestly as we possibly can, showing how they affect this family, in this community. We will keep telling these stories, and through telling those stories, of sharing those experiences, we teach, and we learn, and we lift, and we climb.
Watch the interview below:
Series 1-5 of Black-ish is available on Star on Disney+ from 23 February 2021.