Creator of “Black-Ish” Attributes Father’s Lucrative Settlement to Inspiration Behind Show

Kenya Barris

Kenya Barris

Reported by Liku Zelleke

Kenya Barris, the creator of “Black-ish” – the ABC comedy series starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross – says that life itself inspired and gave him the opportunity to experience the ups and downs of an African American person, both as an individual and as part of a family.

In a recent interview Barris, 40, talked about the upbringing he had and how it affected how he became the person he is, and the work he does, today.

Barris starts off with some dark humor, “I’m from Englewood. We were broke. We really didn’t know we were broke. Because everybody else around us was broke too.”

Somewhere around the time Barris was in the 5th or 6th grade, his father who worked for General Motors, was involved in a serious industrial accident that ended up costing him one of his lungs. The compensation his father received for the injury was “a pretty good settlement,” Barris remembers.

“It totally changed our life,” he said. The family was able to move to the west side and experience life like their wealthy counterparts did.

“It gave me the opportunity to see both sides; that’s sort of how my life has been since then,” Barris said.

Barris then goes on to talk about his life in Atlanta, where he headed to attend college at Clark Atlanta University, and how there too he experienced the “two sides of life”.

“I got to see both sides going from LA to the south. It showed me a world that a lot of people don’t get to see on both sides. I don’t think the blacks in the privileged part of the community manage to see the blacks in the underprivileged sector of the community,” he said. “I got to see that. At the same time those that have had a more mainstream education get to see a more focused education like that in a black university.

And I really appreciate having both of those. Because, it really prepared me for what I wanted to do.”

Black-ish” premiered with a pilot on September 24th and has received wide acclaim.


You can watch the full Barris interview here.


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