Kenya Barris has had a tremendous last 24 months in terms of all the high profile projects (both film and TV) he’s become attached to, likely thanks in large part to the critical and commercial success of his hit ABC comedy series “Black-Ish,” which is now in its 3rd year and continues to perform well for the network.
The series centers on an upper-middle-class African American family, following their various trials and triumphs. Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis, and Peter Mackenzie round out the key cast.
Reported in January, ABC is spinning off “Black-Ish” with series creator/executive producer Barris and ABC Studios working together on the project, which will star Yara Shahidi, focusing on her character, oldest child Zoey Johnson, who goes off to college… or “A Different World 2.0” as many enthusiastically took to calling it when it was first announced.
Zoey Johnson, Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) 17-year-old daughter is the popular, entitled, stylish, and socially active member of the Johnson family. She is typically apathetic to any dealings with her family and is treated as the most perfect teenager, despite her generally shallow personality.
Talks on the potential spin-off were in very early stages when the idea first became public 3 months ago, but it looks like ABC is moving ahead with it, as additional casting announcements were made this week.
Specifically, Trevor Jackson (ABC’s “American Crime”), Chris Parnell (“Saturday Night Live”) and Matt Walsh (“Veep”) have all booked roles opposite Yara Shahidi in the proposed “Black-ish” spinoff, playing a college freshman (and classmate to Zoey/Shahidi), and a pair of college administrators, respectively.
All three will first appear as guest stars in an episode of “Black-ish” in what will serve as a back-door pilot for the potential spin-off series, with filming to take place this spring.
For a series in “Black-ish” that some have called a 21st century version of “The Cosby Show,” a spin-off that’s centered around a daughter who goes off to college, certainly feels apropos here.
As for busy Barris, in addition to his work on “Black-Ish,” he’s also developing a remake of the 1992 film “White Men Can’t Jump”; and he has remakes of “Shaft,” a big screen adaptation of “Good Times” and much more on his to-do list.