Black-ish Universe: Look at Black Life Through a "Lens of Humanity" at D23
By December Savage
August 24, 2019
The D23 bi-annual convention was filled with tons of exciting news that kept fans on edge buzzing with glee. This weekend at the Anaheim convention we learned that Disney's new streaming service, Disney+ will welcome back a Lizzie McGuire reboot, on the big screen we’ll see T’Challa reprise his role as the Black Panther, and new Marvel series, “What If” will explore alternate universes.
On Saturday, we were welcomed with the entire “ish” universe together on stage. "black-ish", its college dramedy spin-off, “Grown-ish”, as well as the newest addition,"mixed-ish".
Michelle Warner from Entertainment Tonight hosted the special reunion where she talked about the upcoming season as well as the importance of the telling of black culture on screen.
"black-ish" fans hyped for the new series “mixed-ish” premiering September 24th, can follow along as a young Rainbow Johnson (Bow) figures out how to navigate the world as a mixed teen during the 80’s. Bow, portrayed by Golden Globe winner Tracee Ellis Ross says that the representation of black faces is an element that has allowed the show to thrive so much.
“So much of what we talk about pulls subject matter off of the wallpaper and into our lives."
We look at it through the lens of humanity as opposed to looking at it like a news topic,” she added.
In the series, we unpack the “cultural identity during the binary world of the 80s.”
Ross has also taken on the role as executive producer, alongside Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne.
Her role, however, is a bit more expansive as she does make sure to oversee the casting, production, and script which many of her cast-mates praised her for.
In the new show, Tika Sumpter and Mark-Paul Gosselaar are casted as Bows interracial parents who decide to move away from a hippie community and into the suburbs where they debate on if/how they should assimilate with mainstream society.
Like Tracee, Tika Sumpter also commented on the importance having a show that brings about issues of identity.
“I really appreciate this space where I’m not an appetizer, I’m a full menu.”
Newcomer, Arica Himmel, will fill the role of the 12-year old Rainbow, and has described the experience as being a shock. Although she studied compilations of Tracee’s acting, she has to remember that the character is still in an immature state.
“I’m almost blocking out my future. I have to remember that rainbow is different from future rainbow” because during this time rainbow is trying to figure out who she is. We can expect a lot of fun individuality.
“I was able to add my own elements to the character,” Himmel adds.
On black-ish this season, we can expect to see a big engagement happening on screen from someone you’d least expect. Pop just may be tying the knot with new character Lanette played by Loretta Devine. Fishburne says that viewers will get a chance to see a different side of the patriarchal figure. Don’t worry too much on what on screen ex-wife Ruby, played by Jenifer Lewis, thinks, however. Although she’s typically known for trying to shoot her ex-husband (and at one time succeeding) Lewis says that Ruby is all for the union.
“I said Lo! You gotta come on my show and take my mom,” Jennifer laughed as she recalled her initial conversation asking Loretta to be on the show. The two have known each other since their time on broadway at 19-years-old and we can’t wait to see that on-screen chemistry.
Laurence Fishburne then took a moment to marvel on what this “ish” Universe in actuality means.
“The stories that he (creator Kenya Barris) wanted to share was something that I was familiar with,” he said smiling as he looked out at his cast mates.
“It’s really profound that were able to occupy the television landscape with this kind of family. ”
When asking Anthony Anderson what those early stages of conversations about black-ish were like, he simply said that the idea was homegrown.
“We only dreamt of moments like this,” Anderson stated.
“We talked about what was missing from the landscape of television. We put that aside and started talking about our families."
That discussion over the diversity the two experienced being the only black families in the prominent neighborhoods is what led to the creation of "black-ish" .
Those looking forward to seeing season 3 of grown-ish get ready! The "black-ish" spin-off will really highlight the grown in "grown-ish". Yara Shahidi who plays the 19-year old Zoey Johnson says that her time away from on screen parents Rainbow and Dre Johnson has been an experimental experience.
“Playing a character that is my polar opposite has been really fun as a teenager.”
Things are expected to “get trippy” in season 3. We can watch as Zoey’s on-again, off-again love interest, Aaron, played by Trevor Jackson, tries to become his own man and step into that adult role. We also see as Ana Torres, portrayed by Francia Raisa, plays out a strong character development.
“I’m really proud of the way they wrote my character because it's a different approach than most women would take,” Raisa said to the D23 crowd.
We’ll hear Torres speak up which is Francia says has important value to her in this climate as a hispanic woman.
Catch "black-ish" returning for season 6 on Tuesday, September 24 in its new 9:30 PM timeslot on ABC. Also, check out "grown-ish" coming back for season 3 on Freeform in January 2020.