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Kenya Barris’ Three-Year Deal with ABC Continues Much-Needed Surge in Network Diversity

Kenya Barris

Kenya Barris

The talented creator of the ABC hit, Black-ish, just signed a three-year overall deal with ABC Studios.  The Clark Atlanta alum’s career excursions include co-creating America’s Next Top Model and writing several episodes for the television series, Are We There Yet?  

Last fall, Black-ish garnered viewer attention based off of its provocative title but proved it had plenty of substance, becoming the first new comedy to launch behind ABC’s monster hit sitcom, Modern Family. The show averaged 7.10 million viewers per episode throughout its freshman run.

Black-ish wasn’t afraid to address sensitive cultural issues during its first year, with episodes like “Crime and Punishment” exploring the notion of whooping children as a means of discipline and “Martin Luther Skiing Day,” which addressed people viewing Martin Luther King Day as a vacation.  It’s ability to paint a unique tableau of a modern Black family while remaining accessible is the biggest strength of the series and Barris’ best quality as a writer.

“I’m psyched to be able to call ABC Studios, the place that made my dreams [and my show] come true, my home for the next few years, and hopefully many more,” said Barris. “I can’t wait for [ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee] to bring me my diamond-encrusted ABC medallion’d gold chain so I can proudly wear it to the Emmys… or one the 17 Straight out of Compton screenings I plan on attending.”

Barris seems to already have an idea of his first new project for ABC, working on a potential new series based on the marriage of singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen called, Ordinary People.  In an interview with Barris stated, “It’s inspired by them — they’re both super creative and super effusive and I’m just fans of them and everything they stand for.  I’m really excited about it.”

Barris’ comedic voice is making him the go-to guy for reboots on a couple of Black-centered properties. He’s attached to write Sony’s film adaptation of Good Times and he’s also writing the script for a reboot of Shaft.

Barris has shown the unique talent of navigating through the gridlocked and dangerous intersection of race and stereotypes using articulate and honest humor as his GPS.  It takes a certain type of boldness and belief to pull this off without crashing but Barris keeps rolling, breaking no sweat as one of the hardest workers and writers in show business.

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