Why Raven-Symoné Had to ‘Black Out’ Her Time on ‘The Cosby Show’

Raven-Symoné on Uncensored. (Credit: TV One)

The Cosby Show made Raven-Symoné a household name. But the actress says she doesn’t remember much about working on the hit sitcom.

Raven rose to stardom after landing a role at age four as precocious toddler Olivia Kendall, stepdaughter of Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet).

[Watch Raven’s interview below]

Although she spent three years starring alongside Bonet, Bill Cosby, and Phylicia Rashad, the now 35-year-old performer has almost no recollection of the time she spent on the NBC series.

“I can only tell you about the journey to The Cosby Show through folklore that my parents told me how to answer that question when I was younger,” Raven revealed in a new interview with TV One autobiographical series Uncensored.

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Raven-Symone on The Cosby Show. (Credit: NBC)
Raven-Symone on The Cosby Show. (Credit: NBC)

Raven says there were “a lot of rules in place,” and she blocked out almost everything that happened on set.

“I don’t remember a scene. I don’t remember anything while it’s a rehearsal or a camera,” she said. “I remember the smell of the soul food coming out of [Cosby’s] dressing room. When we opened the show in front of a live studio audience we had to walk up these stairs and we came down that classic staircase. I remember standing up there, and playing with the wood before I went down. I do not remember as soon as the camera starts. Something clicks off and I do what I’m trained to do.”

Years later, the actress started seeing a therapist and learned why she couldn’t remember her time on The Cosby Show.

“When I turned 18, I knew something was going on, so I started going to therapy, and it’s dissociation,” she explained. “I just black out, I turn into who I’m supposed to be when the camera is on, and then I come back to when normal life resumes.”

According to Psychology Today, “dissociating is the experience of detaching from reality” often caused by “stress or trauma.”

After The Cosby show, Raven starred on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. The actress was cast as Nicole Lee on the sitcom at age seven. She says even at that young age, she was pressured to watch her weight.

“When the conversation of weight started to come into my head, I heard it, didn’t understand it, did what I was told, but then behind the scenes ate,” she said. “It kind of got out of control because as I got older, I could hide it. It just happened, but I look back and I’m like, ‘I wasn’t even fat.’”

Raven also had roles in films, plus on That’s So Raven and The Cheetah Girls.

By age 25, she was ready to retire. She took a three year hiatus and returned to the screen in 2015. She became a panelist on The View. The next year, she left the daytime talk show to pursue a reboot of That’s So Raven titled Raven’s Home. Looking toward the future, she plans to become a sitcom director while creating and producing more shows.

Raven-Symoné’s episode of Uncensored was produced for TV One by Eric Tomosunas, Keith Neal, James Seppelfrick, Robert A. Boyd lll, Paul Hall and Phil Thornton, Jay Allen, Tony L. Strickland, Nikki Byles, and Gabby Jones. Kristen Walter and Phil Thornton directed the episode.

Uncensored: Raven-Symoné airs Sunday, Oct. 17 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Watch the preview clips below.