The “Black-ish” star, who competed in the organization’s ACT-SO event as a kid growing up in Los Angeles, is hosting the NAACP Image Awards for the fourth consecutive year on Feb. 11, and hopes to do so again for at least two more years.
“I want to take it to their 50th anniversary in two years and really do it big. It means a lot,” he says of hosting, “especially being a product of the NAACP youth movement and a product of their ACT-SO competition.
“I did that representing Compton and Beverly Hills, and won the national competition when I was 17. So to have it come full circle now and host something that I grew up watching, and always wanted to be a part of, is just a beautiful thing.”
Besides playing Dre on “Black-ish,” Anderson serves as executive producer on the ABC hit comedy, and acts in films and guest starring roles on television. He also hosts the ABC game show “To Tell the Truth” and Animal Planet’s new talk show called “Animal Nation With Anthony Anderson.”
The two jobs came directly after Anderson wrapped touring the country as a culinary connoisseur on the Food Network with “Eating America” and “Carnival Cravings” in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
On top of all that, Anderson served a two-year consecutive hosting gig at the BET Awards alongside his TV wife, Tracee Ellis Ross.
“It’s all about diversifying myself, and I learned that in the beginning,” Anderson says. “Bill Duke is a mentor of mine who taught me intellectual property and about the business of show business.”
Anderson has had comedic and dramatic roles on projects ranging from “The Departed” to “Me, Myself & Irene” to “Law & Order,” purposefully “switching comedy to drama and back to comedy again, just so that they can see [what I can do].”
He’s especially proud about his work on “Black-ish,” which has earned him Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe award nominations in addition to back-to-back NAACP Image award wins. The Kenya Barris creation focuses on an African-American family living in a predominantly white, and affluent, neighborhood.
“At the time when ‘Black-ish’ came on three seasons ago, I don’t know how many African-American casts were on broadcast television,” Anderson says. “It’s a feather in our cap to be compared to ‘The Cosby Show,’ to be compared to ‘A Different World’ and ‘All in the Family’ and things like that. What Norman Lear did for television in the ‘70s and the ‘80s is what Kenya, and I hope to be doing with television now in this millennium.”
A creator in his own right, Anderson feels fortunate to see his impact reflected throughout today’s television landscape.
“I look at the success of our show, ‘Black-ish,’” he says, and “there were shows that were able to come after us on ABC and other networks.
“We were able to usher in and kick that door in for people like us to tell their stories,” he says. “Some didn’t make the cut, some didn’t last as long as people wanted them to, but they were still given the opportunity because of the success of what we were doing and what we’re doing now. That’s part of the legacy, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Anderson prides himself on breaking through any sort of mold that the industry has for performers.
“It’s always been about if there wasn’t a space for me in a lane, not worrying about that lack of space and opportunity. It’s about creating my own for not only myself, but for others.”