Producer and writer Kenya Barris is best known for his shows Black-ish, Mixed-ish and Grown-ish, but it’s his new series #BlackAF on Netflix that sparked complaints from some viewers about “colorism” and “stereotypes.”
Barris addressed the backlash this week in a remote interview with Tip “T.I.” Harris on the rapper’s expediTIously podcast.
The #BlackAF creator admitted his show is polarizing. “People have called me and told me ‘this is my favorite show,’ people have called me and said, ‘I hate this,’” he explained.
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Some viewers have accused Barris of repeatedly casting biracial women and children in his series. That prompted T.I. to ask the Hollywood insider why he thinks fans responded negatively to Rashida Jones playing his wife on #BlackAF.
“She’s the only person I ever wanted to do that role,” Barris said. “I feel like she’s done a pitch-perfect job.”
He went on to remind the audience that the series is autobiographical, and Jones is portraying his now-estranged wife.
“She’s playing a version of my wife, who is biracial,” he said. “My kids, that Rashida and I could produce, look like those kids, who are amazing.”
#BlackAF premiered on April 17. Barris first addressed the casting complaints in a since-deleted tweet before the series debuted.
In his interview with T.I., he said he wants viewers to have an open mind.
“I think we just need to inform ourselves a little bit more,” he said. “Everyone’s experience and everyone’s opinion in terms of colorism are real. And I understand that. But If you just dug just a little bit under the surface you will understand that this was based upon, it is biographical, and I was trying to duplicate a version of what my family was.”
Barris said he welcomes different perspectives about the show, but called some of the criticism “ignorant.”
“Ignorant, I have a problem with. But I take opinion of the good and the bad. Because if you’re going to listen to any of them, you gotta listen to all of them,” he stated.
#BlackAF season one is currently streaming on Netflix.
Watch the interview below.