David Alan Grier, who plays Foxx’s father Pops Dixon, said that between the pandemic and the numerous killings of Black people, viewers have PTSD.
“We deserve just 22 minutes to release and step away and then get back on the battleground later,” he said to Shadow and Act’s Jessica Otse Idaewor.
Part of his battleground includes Hollywood, a place where he said he’s had to fight for proper representation for much of his career. Foxx’s show provided him a place to have fun and feel comfortable being a Black creative.
“There’s a lot of energy I have expended as an artist, as a Black artist, as a Black male artist in this industry, explaining, asking, cajoling, trying to get someone else to understand why this scene is inappropriate, why it’s not working, why I can’t say this, let’s try something else. There’s none of that. I don’t have to worry about any of that. I just come to play and before I know it, it’s time to go home.”
He said he didn’t have to worry about the series once he realized Foxx was truly in it for the long haul.
“My one question was, ‘Are you going to be on this show,'” he said regarding Foxx’s involvement. “Once he got on the show, I never had to ask him that question because I could tell by his enthusiasm and passion that he’s really in this. He also said, ‘David I need you on this show.’ I can’t tell you the last time someone–a creator, a producer–told me ‘I need you on this show.’ Jamie said, ‘I told everybody that if we get David, David can do this. If we get David, it’s going to work.’…Once I heard that, I was in.”
Foxx, who plays Brian Dixon in the series, talked about how he hopes the series will allow fathers an outlet to see characters like them loving their daughters.
“The one thing that I want people to understand is that I want them to laugh and I want fathers to not give up. I want them to embarrass their daughters because it’s an endearing thing,” he said. “The only reason I’m embarrassing my daughters is becuase I love them so much. Most times you don’t get to see dads in that capacity where they just love their daughters so much.”
He realized a sitcom like his could still find an audience after he starred in ABC’s Live in Front of A Studio Audience as George Jefferson.
“I said ‘Wow, this retro throwback of entertainment is still alive,” he said. “Having the Netflix part of it makes it really great because now we can cook our own food [as in make our own show] and all I needed to do was find my Corrine and we found it in Kylie and then we were off to the races.”
The series’ version of Foxx’s daughter Corinne is the character Sasha Dixon, played by Kyla-Drew. She talked about her audition process, which was on the same day as a biology lab at school.
“I forgot to print out all the scenes, which is so bad of me, but luckily we only did one, then a couple hours later I was pinned for it,” she said. A few weeks and a few other preliminary auditions later, she was booked.
Overall, Foxx hopes that parents realize the importance of understanding that kids have lives of their own, but that they also want to spend as much time with their parents as possible. He talked about one of the errors he made early in fatherhood by believing that trips to Disneyland would solve his daughter’s problems.
“Disneyland actually didn’t work,” he said. “My daughter was like, ‘I didn’t want to go to Disneyland, I just wanted to be around my dad.'”
Check out the full interview below, which also features Porscha Coleman and Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! is now streaming on Netflix.