Mariah Carey and Tracee Ellis Ross embraced their “ish” at Tuesday night’s series premiere event for ABC’s “Mixed-ish” by reflecting on how their biracial identity makes working on the new show even more personal.
“I’m just so thankful that this show exists,” Carey told the assembled crowd during a Q&A with series creator Kenya Barris. “To everyone that’s a fan of the show and of the topic and of the fact that we’ve evolved to a place where we can actually enlighten people, and without going into a whole long drawn out thing, it’s like representation is so important.”
“I actually cried when I watched the pilot,” she shared. “Obviously the humor is all there, but how displaced they are and it just made me feel like, that’s exactly how I felt. I didn’t grow up in a commune, but I might as well have.”
“Mixed-ish” is the latest in creator Barris’ ever-expanding “ish” universe, following “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish,” and centers around a younger version of Ross’s “Black-ish” character Rainbow (played in the new series by Arica Himmel). Set in the 1980s, a young Rainbow and her family is forced out of the commune where she grew up and into mainstream society where she first comes to the realization that she and her siblings are “mixed.”
Carey — who is of Irish, black and Afro Venezuelan descent — wrote the theme song for the new series, debuting the track, titled “In The Mix,” at the exclusive “Embrace Your Ish” event (presented by Popsugar, ABC, ABC Studios & Freeform) celebrating all three shows at Goya Studios in Hollywood.
“It’s great that people will now maybe have a little more of a greater understanding and sense of compassion,” Carey added, before Barris teased that the team has reached out to the iconic singer for a cameo role on the series.
“There’s a handful of us mixed people in [this show’s] world that are doing things and it’s a beautiful union for her,” Ross told Variety on the red carpet about Carey’s involvement.
Ross, who executive produces and narrates the show, is the daughter of legendary singer Diana Ross (who is African American) and Robert Ellis Silberstein (who is Jewish) and highlighted the importance of telling a story she hadn’t seen before.
“When I got ‘Black-ish,’ it was the first time I’d ever been able to play a mixed woman on television because I’d been playing black women. And we didn’t explore it that much, so this is a really fun opportunity,” she added.
For “Mixed-ish” star Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the experience was also personal since his father is of German and Dutch Jewish descent and his mother is Dutch and Indonesian.
“It’s about time, it really is. I didn’t have to deal, fortunately and unfortunately, with what a lot of my bothers and sisters who are mixed had to deal with because of the way I looked,” Gosselaar explained to Variety. “But it still didn’t mean that I still didn’t have some form of issues with where I fit in in society.”
In the series, Gosselaar plays Bow’s father Paul, opposite Tika Sumpter as her mother Alicia. Rounding out the cast are Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Ethan William Childress and Mykal-Michelle Harris.
“We really push the envelope,” Gosselar continued. “I’m so grateful to ABC for allowing us to keep some of the things — I mean there are some cringeworthy lines provided by Cole’s character and Anthony’s character…but they are real and there are lessons to be learned from them.”
The premiere episode for the series screened before a full house, before cast members from all three shows — including “Black-ish’s” Ross, Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne and “Grown-ish” stars Chloe and Halle Bailey — took the stage to talk about the legacy of the growing franchise. After the discussion, the party took on a family reunion-feel as the casts mixed, mingled and danced the night away.