If you asked “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris a year ago who his dream guest star for the ABC sitcom would be, Kanye West would be at the top of his wishlist. Now, his answer would be a little different.
“I still love him, but it’s … different,” Barris said of the rapper, who has drawn controversy over the last few months for inflammatory comments regarding slavery and president Donald Trump.
While the sitcom featuring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross has had a slew of cameos over the course of four seasons, Barris still has some guest stars he’d love to see on the show.
“I want [Samuel L. Jackson] to be Pop’s (Laurence Fishburne) brother,” he said. “ I want to make all the jokes about how they keep getting mistaken for each other. And I want the father of those two people to be Garrett Morris.”
Barris spoke at a Q&A on Saturday in Burbank, Calif., following an advanced screening of the ABC comedy’s Prince-themed 100th episode. He appeared alongside Peter Saji, the writer of the episode, as well as the show’s cast.
In the upcoming episode, which airs Tuesday, each member of the Johnson family gets dolled up as Prince to pay tribute to the icon. The crew covers his most famous tracks, from “Purple Rain” to “When Doves Cry.” Sagi revealed that the episode was such a big production to undertake that they ran out of money at the end. That’s why Charlie (Deon Cole) has to describe a song in the last scene, because “we couldn’t afford to play it.”
Barris said it wasn’t a coincidence that they chose to honor Prince in the 100th episode. Yara Shahidi, who plays Zoey Johnson in “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish,” was Prince’s godchild, and her father was the late musician’s photographer. “This is all part of something that’s supposed to happen,” he said.
The cast also reminisced about their favorite episodes, as well as memories from the past 100 episodes. Many of them highlighted “Juneteenth,” an episode from Season 4 that raised awareness for the date in 1865 that marked the emancipation of slaves, as a particularly memorable one. The impact of that episode was so powerful that when Barris saw Tim Cook at an event later on, the Apple CEO showed him that Juneteenth was now officially listed on the Apple iPhone calendar.
“This is comedy, but comedy is magic in that it can make people think about things that they don’t know they’re thinking about, because they’re laughing,” Barris said.
Fishburne also praised the show’s role in promoting diversity and inclusion as Hollywood still struggles to follow suit.
“When I go away, I look up and I’m one of only three or four black faces or faces of color on a set. When I come home to ‘Black-ish’ and I look up, I see something else,” he said. “I see a lot of women, I see women of color. I see a lot of different kind of people. I see a really inclusive and diverse set and I think that’s the thing that we all can be really proud of.”